CHANDIGARH MAY 29: The Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today described the UT administration’s token detention of some Congressmen as totally unnecessary. Mr. Badal asked the UT authorities to immediately "annul the action and not to persist with such needless tokenism."
He however did not rule out the possibility of the entire show being stage-managed between the Congress leaders and the authorities in the UT which is administered by the Congress-led UPA Government at the centre. He said that the Congress show was the result merely of their internal battles for supremacy by indulging in louder and louder anti-Akali-ism and anti-Badalism. "But I am not sure how impressed Mrs. Sonia Gandhi would be with these pathetic theatricals of her party men and women," said the CM.
At the same time, the Chief Minister also reiterated his offer to meet "our Congress brethren and sisters anywhere they want me to come. If the UT police does not permit them to meet me in a large delegation, they are more than welcome to do so at any place of their choosing in Punjab. I will personally see to it that not only are our honoured opposition leaders allowed to meet me or lodge whatever protest they want to lodge but also that they are extended the fullest courtesy and hospitality which every Opposition party is fully entitled to," Mr. Badal told newsmen at a hurriedly convened press conference at his residence this afternoon.
The Chief Minister had cancelled all his engagements for the day to be available to the Opposition legislators during their protest visit to his residence. He had rushed his Media Advisor Harcharan Bains from Jalandhar in the early hours of this morning to make "the most wholesome arrangements for welcoming the Congress leaders and extending them the traditional Punjabi hospitality. Mr. Bains was asked to leave Jalandhar at 3.30 am so as to be present at the Chief Minister’s residence before day break. Mr. Bains said that the CM had rescheduled even his visit to Karnataka and the swearing in ceremony of the Amritsar South victorious SAD candidate Inderbir Singh Bularia. The CM, who was scheduled to leave for Bangalore at 12.30 eventually flew at five PM, said Mr. Bains.
Mr. Badal said he wondered how frustration generated in the minds of the Congress leaders in the wake of their humiliating defeat in each and every election since February 2007 had driven them to gimmicks unworthy of senior leaders but "I stand by their right to give any democratic expression to their feelings. We live in a Punjab which is a far cry from what it used to be between 2002 and 2007 when the Opposition leaders were thrown behind bars, cane charged and even water-cannoned. We do not want and will not allow Punjab to return to those dark days," said the Chief Minister.
Mr. Badal reiterated that his "long political life was nothing if it was not a battle for democracy, human rights and dignity of individuals, especially the elected representatives of the people. But understandably, the congress leaders find it difficult to understand and believe this. I do not blame them. Their attitude is born out of their long experience as dictatorial rulers," said the CM.
When asked whether he missed a " a prominent Congress face (Amarinder Singh) in the Opposition’s protests, Mr. Badal retorted with characteristic benign sarcasm, "That prominent face is busy with more engaging commitments and a ‘bigger cause.’ He can sacrifice his party, his province and even his country for the sake of his ‘self-chosen Cause’. But we need not be surprised. After all, the history of Kings is replete with instances when rulers threw away their thrones and responsibility towards their people for the sake of affairs of the heart," said Mr. Badal, quoting a well-known instance from British history.
The Chief Minister appeared to be at his relaxed best patronizingly advising Mrs. Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to "set her own house in order before resorting to publicizing her quarrels with her good political rivals. After all, it is the duty of every head of the family to smoothen family affairs before picking up quarrels with ‘neighbours," said Mr. Badal.