Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday promised to end the drugs menace in Punjab if the party comes to power in 2017 assembly polls in the state by bringing in a new law.
Hitting out at the 9-years old SAD-BJP government in the state, Gandhi accused the Akalis of ‘protecting’ drugs trade and said there was ‘ease in doing only one business in Punjab which is of drugs’.
Gandhi also lambasted the Akali dispensation for unemployment in the state.
Leading a dharna against the drugs menace and ‘deteriorating’ law and order situation in the state, Gandhi asked people to be beware of the ‘dangerous enemy’ which was ‘ruining’ their lives, and promised to bring the state back on track.
“Amarinder Singh ji said he will take one month to end the drugs problem when Congress comes to power. Why did he say so? If you have to eliminate the drugs problem, then you will have to give power to the police.
“You will have to put right officers on the job and remove inefficient ones and this work is not being done by Akali Dal. When you do this job and you end the nexus of police and Akali Dal, then the drugs problem will be addressed in one month,” Gandhi said.
“Those who have made money, big houses and robbed the youth of their money from this drugs trade, we will get that money back (from them) and return it to you. We will bring a law and deploy the police in the right manner to stop the menace,” he said.
He also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
“Modi ji and Badal ji talk about ease of doing business. Punjab has only one business where there is ease and that is drugs business. That business is protected by Akali Dal," he said.
“There is no shortcoming in Punjab police. Jawans here had fought against terrorism ... But the Akali Dal government has put good officers who want to work on ‘khudeline’ (unimportant) job. The government asked them not to work and empowered the wrong officers,” he said.
He said when he raised the issue of drugs problem four years back, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal made fun of him.
On the controversy surrounding film Udta Punjab, which highlights the drugs problem in the state, Gandhi said, “Udta Punjab is being banned here. Today again, they are not ready to admit the truth, because they are benefiting from this. Everyday they benefit from this truth, from drugs and lawlessness in Punjab. Akali Dal and its leaders are benefiting from this.”
If Punjab wants a future, then it will have to eliminate drugs problem from the state. There is no other solution to this. Another matter has come to light. On the one side there is a problem of drugs and, on the other side there is a problem of law and order and unemployment,” Gandhi said.
He also vowed to restore the money made by drug dealers to the victim families.
Noting that Punjab’s future has been ‘destroyed’, Gandhi asked the people of the state to accept the reality of drugs in the state.
“The hands and feet of Punjab’s youth are chained and without breaking these chains, Punjab cannot move forward. Punjab’s people will have to accept this truth and only then we can wage a war against drugs. Nothing will happen by hiding it. Punjab has the strength to recognise this truth as its people work with honesty and so does the Congress party,” Gandhi said.
“I want to tell you that when Congress comes to power (after next elections), we shall fight against drugs the way we fought for Bhatta Parsaul, the way we sent back ordinance (on land acquisition) thrice,” Gandhi said.
“Industrialisation which used to happen here, farmers who used to speak loudly, we shall bring that time again. We shall fight your MSP (minimum support price) battle and we shall win it,” he said.
Recalling the Bhatta Parsaul incident, Gandhi said when he raised the matter, people made fun of him.
“When farmers in Bhatta Parsaul came to me, they told me about their pain. People made fun of me at that time and said why did you go to Bhatta Parsaul? I remember, they said nothing had happened in Bhatta Parsaul.
“There was a truth in Bhatta Parsaul and farmers were feeling the pain. I fought for them and in the end, we got the Land Acquisition Bill,” he said.
“Farmers know who fought for them, who did not. Modi ji made a promise on MSP and farmers know what is the truth,” he said.
“It is easy to speak but you ask farmers of Bhatta Parsaul who fought the battle and who brought the Bill and who stopped ordinance and with whose support, it was stopped,” he said talking about the agitation he led in Uttar Pradesh against alleged forcible land acquisition.
He said the youth of Punjab had come to him and shared their pain about drug problem in the state, saying, “Our future is being ruined.”
Reacting to Gandhi’s announcement that his party will come up with a new legislation to deal with the drugs menace, senior Aam Aadmi Party leader and Punjab in-charge Sanjay Singh said the Congress should first take action against those allegedly involved in the drugs trade within its organisation.
“Your Jalandhar MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary is summoned by the ED (Enforcement Directorate) in a drugs racket. What action are you taking against such people? Partap Singh Bajwa, against whom Amarinder Singh had written to Sonia Gandhi saying he was involved in drugs trade, but he has been sent to Rajya Sabha.
“Gurchet Singh (Bhullar), an ex-minister from the Congress demands that whole Punjab should be given the licence to produce country-made liqour and open opium vends. What action has he taken? Is he doing drama of protesting against drugs,” Singh said.
The AAP leader also claimed that Amarinder Singh was against a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry against Punjab Minister Bikram Majithia.
“Why are you favouring Bikram Majithia. The drug trade is flourishing because of the leaders of the Congress, Akali Dal and the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party),” Singh said.