The Congress has lashed out at Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for calling Rahul Gandhi a "national joke" for his statement on drug addiction in Punjab and demanded an apology from the Akali Dal-BJP government.
In a public meeting in Punjab two days ago, Rahul had said that 7 out of 10 young people in Punjab were addicted to drugs, a statement which appears to have riled Badal no end.
But Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, who is an MP from Punjab, on Friday quoted from an affidavit filed by the Punjab government in court which said that 70 per cent of the youth in Punjab are on drugs of various kinds. It is the same Akali-BJP government, which filed the affidavit in the court.
The affidavit says "the whole of Punjab is in the grip of a drug hurricane which weakens the morale, physique and character of its youth. The vibrant Punjab, which ushered in the green revolution, is today living in dazed stupor as 67 per cent of the rural households in the state have at least one drug addict. Drug addiction has become a stigma that belies claims of prosperity in the state."
Detailing the various drugs, the affidavit says "Opium, their derivates and synthetic opiate drugs are the most preferred ones as almost 70 per cent of the addicts are indulging in the abuse of these substances followed by combination of opiate and sedatives poppy-husk, smack, heroine, charas, ganja and synthetic drugs like bruffin, proxy-Von, disgapam, combiflam, compose, syrups and injection of morphine are widely used as synthetic drugs which are easily available at chemist shops in the urban and rural areas".
It says that as per the survey conducted by Prof Sandhu (2006) drug addiction in Punjab is 70 per cent. It says approximately 7 out of 10 college going students abuse one or the other drug.
Tewari said that Punjab has already lost one generation to years of terrorism and conflict in the state and will now lose another generation if the government does not sit up and act.
He said, "The language used by Sukhbir Badal was completely undignified and the Akali government has reacted with their classic sense of ignorance and arrogance".
Manish said, "The Akali government has a responsibility to save the young generation. They should thank Rahul for flagging off such an important issue"
Rahul has been continuing with his visits to various parts of the country, addressing rallies and holding Youth Congress and NSUI conventions while the Congress party has been grappling with disclosures about his brother-in-law Robert Vadra who has been charged with amassing wealth much beyond his known sources of income.
Rahul Gandhi along with other members of the family have remained mum on the issue while the party and the government have been fielded to answer and defend Vadra before the media.
Arvind Kejriwal who first exposed the issue of Robert Vadra was arrested along with his associates when he was demonstrating demanding the resignation of Union Minister Salman Khurshid, for an expose that he and his wife took money belonging to a trust for the handicapped.
The Congress party and its government is lurching from one graft charge after another and a perception has gone home that corruption is all pervasive in the government.
With elections to the state assemblies of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat around the corner, there is concern in the party that the charges against Robert Vadra, which is basically an attack on Sonia Gandhi, will some way affect the party's performance in the state assemblies.