WITH 40 Congress MLAs on one side seeking action against senior SAD leader and former revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh making it clear that he would not engage in “vendetta politics,” a virtual tug of war is on between the CM and the MLAs. Although the CM broke his silence on Majithia while speaking in Jalandhar Thursday when he said he “personally felt Majithia was involved in drug trade but could not act without evidence,” the MLAs are sticking to their guns that the Congress-led government should at least order a probe.
The CM’s confidants say that Amarinder, now wiser after his gunning for the Badals during his previous tenure as CM made the Akalis stronger, did not want a repeat of such vendetta politics. But with Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu joining the campaign against Majithia recently, it was being seen by some as a sign of revolt against their own government. Sources in Amarinder’s camp said he had held a meeting of MLAs along with PPCC chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar soon after 40 MLAs wrote to him in August seeking action against Majithia. Amarinder is learnt to have told the MLAs that he had got the case examined and it was not easy to put Majithia in jail as there was no concrete evidence against him except a statement of alleged druglord Jagdish Singh Bhola.
“The MLAs were also told that even if Majithia is arrested and sent to jail, he could easily go to court alleging vendetta and get relief from judiciary for want of any concrete evidence. This would not look good on the government,” said a senior leader of the party. The MLAs are, however, unrelenting. “We know that a probe could be ordered against Majithia and handed over to the Special Task Force (STF). Why is the STF not given enough powers to handle a probe like this?” asked Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Dera baba Nanak MLA, who initiated the campaign against Majithia.
He added: “When a CBI probe was being sought against Majithia, Captain Sahib had said the Punjab police was capable of handling the case and the CBI would delay the probe unnecessarily. He should now stand by his words and get the Punjab police to probe.” The Congress camp, however, sees the development as a manifestation of disenchantment among several MLAs especially the first timers, “who were feeling left out of the government.” “Akalis had complete political control over the state. But in the present Congress government, bureaucracy is being perceived to be running the state. There is no system of taking any poliotical feedback. The MLAs, who had thought they would be as powerful as Akali MLAs were during their government, are a disappointed lot. They have found the campaign against Majithia a way to vent out their frustration. Majithia is the biggest issue that resonates with public sentiment. Hence, the traction for the issue,” said a party leader.
He said Amarinder’s perceived inaccessibility has also left the MLAs disenchanted. Several MLAs who were considered close to Amarinder have not been able to get access to him. Randhawa’s campaign against Majithia is also to do with the latter’s verbal attacks on the former in the Assembly as well as during the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll campaign, “Majithia has been hitting out at Randhawa and other Congress leaders of Majha and the discourse has been very low. This has not gone down well with most of the leaders. They want the government to act against Majithia as he has been alleged to be involved in drug trade, even if there is no evidence,” said a senior party leader.
Also, most of the MLAs report that they were being questioned by people during rallies as to why the Congress government was not taking action against Majithia, “We do get asked why. People even say we have a nexus with them (Akalis). How do we handle this? If our government orders a probe, at least it will be clear that we have no soft corner for him (Majithia),” said Randhawa.
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