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India Votes
It’s a cockfight out there
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar/Chandigarh, May 1
This is one no-holds-barred contest in Punjab that is getting wilder by the day. The war of words between the two best-known political families of the state is also getting uglier with personal attacks being hurled with increasing frequency. With the first phase of polling in the state due on Thursday next week, both the Congress and the Akalis are putting script-writers to shame.

What is more, as in several other states, state-level issues and personalities seem to be driving the campaign in the run-up to the general election.

The Congress campaign committee chairman, Captain Amarinder Singh today took the war to a new pitch by vowing to seal all airports in the country to stop Badals from fleeing the country. Campaigning here, the Captain announced that after the formation of a Congress government in the state, he would ensure that both the Badals, Parkash Singh and Sukhbir Badal, are put behind bars. Assembly election in the state is of course not due for two more years and Badals naturally are not worried.

But before the day was out, Akalis hit back in kind. In a statement issued in Chandigarh, Bikram Singh Majithia, former Public Relations Minister of the state, alleged that the Captain and his son are the ones who are flying out of the country after the election. They have already booked their tickets to Dubai and Switzerland respectively after the election on May 13, Majithia alleged, in a bid to withdraw their savings in Swiss banks and stash the money in other tax havens.

Of the two camps, the Captain’s appears to be the more belligerent. Today Amarinder Singh ridiculed the failure of the Badal government to get him arrested.

Even more alarmingly, the former chief minister said scores would be settled after formation of a new government. Declaring that he had promised ‘revenge’ for the death of 42 Congress workers in the state during the last panchayat election, the Congress leader launched into a no-holds-barred attack on the Badals. He also held out a dire warning to Majithia, who, he alleged, was intimidating Congress workers.

Not to be intimidated, Majithia retaliated by declaring that Youth Akali Dal would ensure that the state recovers ‘every penny’ allegedly looted by Amarinder Singh in the so-called ‘Ludhiana City Centre scam’, ‘Amritsar Improvement Trust scam’ and the ‘Intranet scam’.

Both sides have been using colourful language, some bordering on the abusive, to describe each other. Punjab certainly deserves a better political discourse.

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