Updated: August 19, 2021 4:00:18 pm
THE SHIROMANI Akali Dal threw Covid caution to the wind and switched gears to intensify its reach out before the upcoming Assembly polls, with party president Sukhbir Singh Badal launching a 100-day programme – titled Gall Punjab Di – from Wednesday onwards.
The first programme was held in Zira constituency of Ferozepur district of Punjab, where Badal junior organised roadshows, and addressed 13 public gatherings of hundreds of locals and party workers/supporters swarming the venues, flouting all social distancing norms and triggering fears of this turning into a super-spreading event. Most people who turned up to attend Sukhbir Badal’s Wednesday programme were without a mask, with the SAD president himself being spotted interacting with people without wearing a mask or face protection.
Sukhbir, later in the day, also faced protests at Zira town’s main chowk with several farmers – under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Committee, and some mazdoor unions – raising slogans against the SAD chief. The agitators claimed that SAD’s Gall Di Punjab had no mention of mazdoors or farmers.
The SAD chief, however, brushed aside the allegations. Talking to media persons, he said, “The protesters were not farmers. They were 100-odd Congress workers sent by area MLA Kulbir Zira. We don’t bother about such persons. We are committed to not let the three contentious farm laws be implemented in Punjab. If we are voted to power then we will pass a resolution nullifying these laws in our Vidhan Sabha.”
“Our credibility is our biggest strength”, said the SAD president, while addressing people before the start of a motorcycle rally which culminated at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, where he addressed his first public meeting.
On Wednesday, Sukhbir remained in Zira constituency for the whole day visiting Makhu, Zira and Mallanwala rural areas in the daytime, while addressing 2-3 programs in the town areas in the evening.
Sukhbir also interacted with the people at Makhu and Fatehgarh Sabra and addressed public gatherings there. He said that people approached him to complain about the steep increase in extortion and even targeted killings besides highlighting the sand and liquor mafias being run by Kulbir Singh Zira. He said it was condemnable that these elements, who had been patronised by the chief minister earlier, now had a new benefactor in new Congress president Navjot Sidhu.
He also called on Baba Chhinder Singh of Gurdwara Sham Singh Attariwala at Fatehgarh Sabran. He was accompanied by former minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon and BSP State secretary Sukhdev Singh Sheera.
After an overnight stay at a SAD worker’s house, Sukhbir will move to Guruhar Sahai constituency on Thursday, where he will spend the entire day.
Apart from making a slew of promises for rural as well as urban people, Sukhbir on Wednesday stated that the SAD was Punjab’s very own party. He said, “The AAP keeps on talking about Arvind Kejriwal, who is sitting in Delhi. On the other hand, Congress’ Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, cannot take any decision without consulting Sonia Gandhi first. However, we are your own party. We are sitting here itself and hence, are always here to serve you all.”
He even repeated his earlier statements claiming Kejriwal, Bhagwant Mann and Captain Amarinder being the biggest liars. Kejriwal, he said, swore on his son that he will never get into an alliance with Congress but ended up doing that in Delhi once. “Bhagwant Mann swore on his mother that he will never drink, but did he stop drinking? And above all, Punjab’s current CM has done the biggest sacrilege by swearing on the holy Gutka Sahib of ending the drug mafia, giving jobs and many other things.”
Sukhbir also promised a reduction in fuel prices, besides other freebies, if the SAD was voted to power. “We will slash tax on diesel by Rs 10 per litre, give first 400 units of power for free every month and also provide Rs 2000 per month as ‘Sanman fund’ for all blue cardholder in the state. This fund will be given to the eldest lady of the house. All the cancelled blue cards will be restored, while students studying in government schools will have a 33 per cent reservation for getting admission in all professional colleges of Punjab. A health insurance coverage of Rs 10 lakh will also be provided for one and all in Punjab.”
Janmeja Sekhon to contest from Zira
Janmeja Singh Sekhon, a former SAD minister, was on Wednesday announced as the party’s candidate from Zira in the upcoming elections. Sekhon had first contested from Ferozepur rural, later from Maur in district Bathinda and now he has been fielded from Zira. Sekhon is already very active in the area regarding his political activities and a formal announcement of his name was made on Wednesday.
However, the announcement of Sekhon’s candidature brought some discontent within the party ranks, with Avtar Singh Zira, the son of five-time SAD MLA, Hari Singh Zira, too, having been touted as a hot favourite to get the ticket from Zira. Sources revealed Avtar has been told to contest the elections from Khadoor Sahib instead of Zira.
Circuit houses on sale
Sukhbir, while interacting with the media, said, “It is really sad that now Punjab government has started selling circuit houses as well. It is a new scam. We got to know that the Amritsar circuit house has been sold off, while tenders for the Ludhiana circuit house have also been floated. However, we will roll back all these decisions if we are voted to power. We will take all those officers to task who were part of this decision and the ones who are burying the truth.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.