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Punjab assembly’s winter session: SAD wants oppn’s scalp; Cong to decide as events unfold

The Akali Dal will raise the issue of renaming of the Dyal Singh College in Delhi as Vande Mataram Mahavidyalaya, besides questioning the government why bank accounts of farmers declared NPAs by banks and were not getting fertiliser from cooperative societies.

punjab Updated: Nov 27, 2017 12:54 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab assembly,winter session,SAD
We have demanded for a longer winter session as we want to raise major issues concerning the state, including farmers’ woes, non-implementation of poll promises,” said former Akali minister Daljit Singh Cheema. (HT File )

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are all set to go after leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira with all guns blazing in the three-day Punjab assembly winter session beginning on Monday, which is likely to be a stormy affair. The alliance partners will also be gunning for Khaira’s scalp.

The alliance members will target the Congress government on a host of issues, including those of the farmers. They are set to corner the Captain Amarinder Singh government on the promises made to farmers before the assembly elections earlier this year. “We have demanded for a longer winter session as we want to raise major issues concerning the state, including farmers’ woes, non-implementation of poll promises,” said former Akali minister Daljit Singh Cheema.

“We have demanded for a longer winter session as we want to raise major issues concerning the state, including farmers’ woes, non-implementation of poll promises.”— Daljit Singh Cheema, ex-Akali minister

The alliance will also corner the government on development works, which it claims have come to a standstill. The Akali Dal will raise the issue of renaming of the Dyal Singh College in Delhi as Vande Mataram Mahavidyalaya, besides questioning the government why bank accounts of farmers declared NPAs by banks and were not getting fertiliser from cooperative societies.

It will also demand hike in the state advisory price (SAP) for sugarcane farmers from Rs 300 per quintal to Rs 350 a quintal.

The alliance also wants the government to make public the contents of the proposed Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act (PCOCA). The Akali Dal will also raise the issue of UK national Jagtar Singh Johal, who arrested in connection with targeted killings in Punjab.

The other issues that the Akali members are likely to raise in the house include sand mafia allegedly being run by Congress legislators, increase in power tariff and closure of 800 state-run primary schools.

Offence or defence? Congress to choose as events unfold

Divided opposition is a windfall for any government, even when you have the numbers. With near two-thirds majority in the Punjab house, the Congress had been found wanting in its strategy in the last session when in an unexpected turn of events rivals, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), had joined ranks against it.

However, in the winter session, even the odds are in the favour of the ruling Congress, not owing to performance but political exigencies. Now, leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira is in deep waters owing to summons to appear in a Fazilka court in a drug case and the SAD-BJP combine seems to be in no mood to let the opportunity to pull Khaira down go unexploited.

The Cong strategy would also depend upon the AAP stance against the government as the Lok Insaaf Party has declared another expose on Monday.

Relegated to the third slot in the state assembly, the SAD is vying with the AAP as the main opposition party. The Captain Amarinder Singh government also had a lot to answer for in the winter session. The farm loan waiver still seems a distant promise as government struggles to pay salaries and pensions. The arrest of UK national Jagtar Singh Johal in for targeted killings in the state has echoed in the UK Parliament and both the AAP and SAD have demanded a proof against him from the government. The attack on a mining officer allegedly by “sand mafia” involving a Congress MLA and government’s bid to boost revenue by venturing into liquor sale have raised eyebrows. The AAP would like to raise some of them.

With Khaira under attack,the treasury benches may not need to be defensive. Nor does it need to go on an offensive against Khaira. The faceoff between the AAP and Akalis in the house will only help the Congress in the perception game as it fights the civic polls labelling both as “drug-tainted”. So this time round, between being offensive or defensive, the party can afford to choose as events unfold.

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 12:52 IST