Friday, July 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Advani blasts Amarinder
Says raids targeting Badal against democracy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today threw his weight behind the beleaguered Akali Dal Chief Parkash Singh Badal and came down heavily on Capt Amarinder Singh government’s raids targeting him and his family.

“Whatever is happening in Punjab is wrong. This is sheer intolerance against the Opposition and is against the values of democracy,” Mr Advani told newspersons after meeting several senior BJP and Akali Dal leaders here at his North Block office this morning.

Mr Advani’s observations assume significance as Mr Badal and other senior Akali leaders had been annoyed over the BJP-led NDA’s “silence” towards the Congress government’s alleged political vendetta.

Stating that the Congress government in Punjab should realise that its actions were against the concept of federalism and it could not treat the Akali Dal as its enemy, Mr Advani said “in a democracy, no one in power should resort to any action with a feeling of revenge.”

“There should be no ill-will against a party in opposition as otherwise democracy and federalism will not be effective,” he added.

The BJP-Akali Dal delegation, included Mr V.K. Malhotra, Mr Madan Lal Khurana (both BJP) and Union Minister and Akali leader Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

Mr Advani also sought to remind the Congress that the Vajpayee government, since it came to power in 1998, had never resorted to any “witch hunt” against any political party or the opposition government.

He said the NDA government at the Centre was having a cordial relations with all states, a large number of them being ruled by opposition parties, a majority of them by the Congress.

“Governments come and go but the path of intolerance is not right. Political opponents should be treated as opposition and not as enemies.

“In fact, our relations with them are even better than those ruled by our party”, he said while lamenting that “political opposition should be treated as opposition and not as enemies”.

During the meeting Mr Dhindsa strongly conveyed the resentment of the party leaders over the “silence” of the BJP and NDA leaders. He told Mr Advani that not even single senior BJP leader, including party President Venkaiah Naidu had issued strong statement against the vindictive action of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Later, Mr Malhotra and Mr Khurana, told newspersons that a public meeting of the NDA would be held in Amritsar on July 16 to condemn the acts of “political vendetta” of the Amarinder Singh government.

NDA Convener George Fernandes and Akali Dal chief Prakash Singh Badal would meet Mr Advani this evening apparently to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, the BJP also strongly criticised the Congress government for its “vindictive” action against the Akalis.

“The Punjab Government’s actions against Mr Badal shows the growing trend of intolerance in democracy,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told newspersons.

Asked why the BJP had been only making “arm-chair criticism” against Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Javadekar maintained that “the Punjab unit of the party has been holding demonstrations and issuing strong statements against the Punjab Government.”


SAD men wait in vain for vigilance sleuths
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal/Killianwali (Muktsar), July 3
Even as hundreds of SAD-BJP workers today burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in front of the ancestral house of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to lodge their protest against the atrocities being committed on them and their leaders by the police, Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal for the first time said “Thank You” to those, who had been camping here and at the workshop owned by her family situated at village Killianwali waiting for a search of these premises by sleuths of the vigilance bureau (VB) today.

In an emotional speech, Mrs Badal urged the workers to put in their best to fight the atrocities being committed on them by the state Congress government. She added that she and Mr Badal always stood with the workers, who struggled hard to fight against all sorts of injustices.

“The Akalis are habitual of braving odds. The time has come again when the Congress government has challenged the Akalis to face their atrocities. We will face these with a smiling face and will emerge victorious”, she said.

However, hundreds of workers, who were camping at Mr Badal’s residence in Badal village and the workshop at Killianwali village, waited in vain for the vigilance team which was expected to carry out a search of these two premises. The Bureau had secured search warrants of these two premises along with others after a disproportionate assets case was registered against Mr Badal and his family members.

The workers were provided with uninterrupted supply of tea, cold drinks, snacks and food items. Tents were pitched at Badal’s residence to save the workers from the scorching sun.


Centre can take action against Punjab Govt: Badal
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
Conveying strong resentment over the BJP-led NDA government’s “silence” towards the Congress government’s “political vendetta” against him, his family and close friends, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Parkash Singh Badal today asserted that the Centre had powers to move against the Punjab Government.

At a meeting, late this evening, with Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, NDA Convener George Fernandes and others, Mr Badal described the situation in Punjab under Capt Amarinder Singh as “worse than the internal emergency between 1975-77.”

Mr Badal said the Punjab Government having failed to gather any evidence against him had started harassing his family, relatives and close friends.

Former Chief Minister, who explained in detail about the situation prevailing in the state, however, ruled out the withdrawal of support to the Vajpayee government at the Centre.

Mr Badal told Mr Advani that although he was under pressure from some of his party colleagues to withdraw support, he is keen to continue.

The Akali chief was categoric in telling the top NDA leaders that there was no use in dispatching an NDA team at present. If at all, the NDA was keen to send a team, it would be advisable to send it at a later stage, he said.

The NDA was planning to send a four-member team to Punjab under the leadership of senior BJP leader V.K. Malhotra.

Although Mr Badal did not elaborate on what action the Centre could take against the Punjab Government, it is understood that the Akali leaders have already urged the Centre to give a directive under Article 256 of the Constitution.

Article 256 reads :”The executive power of every state shall be so exercised as to ensure the compliance with the laws made by Parliament and any existing laws which apply in that state, and the executive power of the union shall extend to giving of such directions to a state as may appear to the Centre to be necessary for that purpose.”

Mr Badal also informed the Deputy Prime Minister that one of the close aides of Capt Amarinder Singh, who filed an FIR against him a couple of months back, has been appointed as a Director of a cooperative.

“In the name of fighting corruption, the Punjab Chief Minister has launched a villification campaign against me and has not spared even the women and children,” Mr Badal said.

He also pointed out that Capt Amarinder Singh has so far shied away from the defamation suit filed by him in a court in Chandigarh.

The meeting was also attended by Union Minister and Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and BJP leader Mr V.K. Malhotra.

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