M A I N   N E W S

I won’t quit: Badal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 10
A day after a special court in Ropar framed charges against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in a disproportionate assets case, he ruled out any possibility of his resignation over the issue.

“Why should I quit,” was the defiant reply put forth by Badal after meeting President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here today. He pointed out that there were several ministers in the Union Cabinet against whom charges had been framed.

The Punjab Chief Minister maintained that there was no substance in charges that he had acquired wealth beyond means. “He (Amarinder Singh) used government machinery fully against me.... This was the first case of its kind in which allegations were attributed to reliable sources,” Badal said, as he denied any wrong doing while being in power from 1997 to 2002.

He said former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh acted in a vindictive manner. When asked whether he would repay the Congress leader in the same manner, he said, “I am not vindictive.” But, he recalled that two cases, one civil and criminal case, were pending against Amarinder Singh. “Law will take its course,” he said.

A special court in Roopnagar had yesterday framed charges against Badal, his wife, son and seven others in connection with the case. Special judge G.S. Saran directed that charges under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC be framed against Badal, his wife Surinder Kaur and son Sukhbir Singh Badal, but rejected the prosecution application for re-investigation of the case.

On the water dispute with Haryana, the Chief Minister insisted on the rights of riparian states. However, there was some toning down of his stand when he described water as a national asset. Perhaps, the pressure put by the BJP, which has gained in strength in the Assembly poll, seems to be acting on the SAD-led government, forcing the Punjab Chief Minister to mellow down his aggressive posture.

In his meeting with Manmohan Singh, the Chief Minister sought an immediate hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat from Rs 750 to Rs 900 per quintal, keeping in view the steep hike in the cost of agriculture inputs and diesel in the recent past. Badal also sought Prime Minister’s intervention for seeking industrial incentives for border areas of Punjab on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. He also also took up the matter for the establishment of a national defence university and a new international airport in the state.

On the power sector, Badal urged the Prime Minister that Punjab be given the promised additional 1500 MWs from some other on-going project as the NTPC Lara Project had been delayed, from which the Centre had promised to allot Punjab 1500 MWs.

He also handed over a letter to the Manmohan Singh, apprising him about the proposed ill-conceived move of the Haryana Government to form a separate gurdwara parbandhak committee and sought his intervention to stop the Haryana Government from taking any such decision.



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