Even as many of its pre-poll promises remain unfulfilled, Amarinder Singh has every reason to breathe easy for now as Punjab’s two opposition parties, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are busy fighting each other rather than challenge the ruling Congress.
Having co-operated with each other during the previous Assembly session which saw Opposition legislators forcibly getting evicted from the House, the two parties have crossed swords in this session over the issue of drug smuggling.
To the relief of ruling Congress, SAD and AAP legislators have been raising slogans against each instead of asking questions from the government.
While the SAD’s members of legislative Assembly (MLAs) on Tuesday demanded removal of AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira’s removal as leader of the Opposition following his summoning in a drug trafficking case, AAP demanded arrest of Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia on drugs trafficking charges.
The bitterness between the AAP and SAD has increased following the release of a audio compact disc (CD) allegedly containing conversationabout payment of Rs 35 lakh to a Punjab and Haryana High Court judge for action against Khaira in the drug smuggling case.
The AAP alleges the SAD is hand-in-glove behind the summoning of Khaira in drug case and the CD is being used to support this claim.
The Chief Minister (CM) Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday lambasted the Opposition parties for wasting public money and precious time of the House by disrupting the Question Hour and not allowing the Assembly to function.
Speaking to reporters, outside the Assembly after a disruptive Opposition prevented the House from conducting any serious business, the CM said the SAD and AAP had turned the sacrosanct precincts of the Assembly into an ‘akhara’ (battleground).
While the drugs case involving AAP’s Khaira was in the judicial courts, the allegations against SAD’s Majithia were being investigated by multiple government agencies, including ED, Narcotics Bureau and DRI, Amarinder pointed out. “These are legal matters that should not be fought on the floor of the House,” he said. The CM said it was the first time that two Opposition parties were fighting in the House between themselves instead of taking up meaningful issues in the interest of the people of the state.
The Opposition is out to gain cheap publicity at the cost of public money, said Amarinder, adding that the exchequer loses Rs 70 lakh due to a day’s loss of Assembly business.