The ‘chitta’ Ravan effigy with faces of CM Parkash Singh Badal, deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia finally went up in flames on Tuesday at the GLADA grounds of Ludhiana.
The earlier such effigy — chitta means white in Punjabi, which is also the colour of heroin — was supposed to be burnt on the occasion of Dussehra earlier this month. However, after a clash between Congress and Youth Akali Dal (YAD) workers led to the event being put off. Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh later said he would burn a similar effigy on October 18, when PM Modi visited Ludhiana.
On Tuesday, however, Amarinder changed this plan at the last minute and instead asked partyworkers who were “attacked” on Dussehra eve to do the “honours”.
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Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, district Congress chief Gurpreet Gogi, Narinder Sharma (brother of MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu), Guriqbal Honey (brother of MP Bittu), Umesh Sharma and Gurdev Singh Lapran (on behalf of his son youth Congress leader Parvinder Lapran currently in jail) were requested to burn the effigy.
Despite repeated attempts by Amarinder’s media advisor Vimal Sumbly and Ashu to convince him to personally light the fire, Amarinder refused.
Some party leaders, however, said the move was made on the advise of the state party chief’s security team.
“His security told us that either we should disperse the crowds or he won’t come down from the stage. Earlier, his personal security officer said that Amarinder could burn the effigy from a distance of six feet but then they feared that if there were to be a mishap, it would be difficult for the chief to find cover. None from Punjab Police came forward to assist. We tried our best to convince him but there was no co-ordination,” said one Congress MLA from Ludhiana.
Others did not buy into the “security” theory. “It is still Maharaja-style working here. With elections close, you have to move among the crowd if you want to campaign properly. Everyone tried to convince him but he did not come down. This was disappointing,” said another leader.
However, some felt it was graceful of the Punjab Congress chief to motivate his workers. “It was because of his large heart that he told workers to light the effigy,” said a worker. Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, who led the team that lit the fire, did not dismiss the security concern. “There was a legitimate security concern. His presence was enough for us,” said Bittu.
Also, there were others who felt that burning effigies was something that did not augur well for a senior politician. “Effigy burning is taking politics to the lowest and thus he avoided doing it personally,” said a leader.
‘No need of CBI probe in drug racket case’
Asked why he said that a CBI inquiry was not required in the drug racket case in which Majithia’s name also cropped up, Amarinder said, “Four agencies including ED, revenue intelligence, IT were already investigating the case. Thus I saw no reason in demanding CBI inquiry.”
Pointing to the effigy he said, “This trio (Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Bikram Singh Majithia) looks innocent but they are not. I know Sukhbir very well. He is the biggest goon of the lot.”
‘PM supports those who are responsible for drug menace’
“PAU is the land from where green revolution came, from where rivers of milk flowed in Punjab. And today our PM Modi is supporting those who are responsible for nashey di nadiyaan (rivers of drugs). SAD-BJP gets elections from chhitta and they can’t see it burning. Else from where will five star hotels and buses come?,” said Bittu.