Tuesday, October 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Crusade against Badal on: CM
Tribune News Service

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh addresses a Press conference in the Capital on Monday
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh addresses a Press conference in the Capital on Monday. — Tribune photo Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, October 21
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said his government was making sure that evidence in corruption charges against Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Parkash Singh Badal was enough to lead to his conviction.

“We are in the process of collecting evidence for conviction of Mr Badal so that his name goes down as a corrupt leader who did not bother for the expectations of the people,” Capt Amarinder Singh told reporters here.

He said the fight against corruption was one of the main issues on which the Congress was voted to power and the state government was fulfiling its commitment. “When we have enough evidence against Mr Badal, we will proceed against him,” he said, adding that the crusade against corruption had to start from the top.

Asked if the Congress high command had advised him against arresting Mr Badal, the Chief Minister said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had not spoken to him on such issues.

Scoffing at the SAD threat to launch a “mass movement” from November 15 on a 15-point demand charter which includes restoration of free power to the farm sector and Dalits, he said that there was no question of revoking the decision till the state’s financial health improved.

The Chief Minister said Mr Badal had no moral standing to lead any agitation. “He is surrounded by a handful of corrupt Akalis.”

Defending his party’s decision to stop free power, the Chief Minister said the thermal plants in the state had only three days’ reserves of coal against the stipulated 21 days and the state government owed money to the Railways and coal companies. Power supply in the state would have suffered if remedial steps were not taken, he said. The state government, would give the eight-hour assured power supply in the state from November 1.

He said at the Chief Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi, he had told the Prime Minister that reforms would take a backseat unless there was political consensus.

Referring to Akali criticism about the delay in the payment of drought relief of Rs 20, the Chief Minister said he was yet to receive a grant from the Centre.

The Chief Minister is likely to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on October 28 as head of an all-party delegation regarding the state’s demands on the minimum support price and Rs 6,300 crore the government had spent for saving the crop from drought.

He yesterday met Rajasthan Chief ‘ Minister Ashok Gehlot and toured some drought-affected areas of the state. He said Punjab would send five trains of fodder and release 10,000 cusec of additional water to the neighbouring state. The crop cycle in Punjab was such that farmers would not need water for their fields for the next 15 days and Punjab could spare water for Rajasthan.

Farmers in the state were being urged not to burn the remains of kharif crop and more trains with fodder would be sent to Rajasthan if the Railways did not charge freight.

Capt Amarinder Singh said his government did not interfere in any religious affair and had nothing to do with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) poll due next month.

The Chief Minister said he had asked the police to provide security to only those members of the SGPC who demanded it. Certain SGPC members had complained to the police about attempts of kidnapping by supporters of Mr Badal and security had been provided to them.


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