A day after two PR officials were pulled up for releasing a video clip of state ministers allegedly discussing drugs before a Cabinet meeting was about to begin, members of both the ruling Congress and Opposition slammed Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his government, which had promised to eliminate drug trafficking within weeks of coming to power during the last Assembly poll campaign.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa hit out at Amarinder saying he had “cheated the people of Punjab”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “It is akin to Nero fiddling when Rome was burning. Capt Amarinder had sworn by Gutka Sahib in a public rally with a promise that he would eradicate the drug menace from the state. Now, his own Cabinet is discussing opium and ways to procure it. This shows his commitment towards his promise. It amounts to cheating the people of Punjab who gave a brutal majority to the Congress in last Assembly election.”
“By taking action against the PR personnel, the government is shooting the messenger. What is their fault? It is like spanking others for your own wrongdoing. What do people of Punjab expect from this government when even the ministers in Cabinet are so hapless? The MLAs are crying hoarse, workers are unhappy. The situation is in front of everybody,” Bajwa said.
“Everybody in Congress says they were not being heard. I have my full sympathies with the ministers. I appeal to them to chuck the Cabinet berth as every Punjabi swore by his honour. And there was no honour and respect in continuing,” he further said.
One of the ministers, who attended the Cabinet meeting, claimed that the “light-hearted” talk was not about drugs but to suggest benefits of a medicine for a sick person.
But Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said, “They have taken action against the two officials of the PR department, but what about those ministers who are talking about the benefits of “kaali davai”? Why is there no action against them?”
“It is strange that the government has not said a word about those who are talking about drugs in this manner, but action is being taken against those whose only mistake is to bring out what the ministers said,” he told reporters in Amritsar.
Human error, no sabotage: PR secy
Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, secretary (public relations) of the Punjab government, said that the release of the video was a human error. “Video shots are taken before the Cabinet meeting each time. The video cameras are permanently on mute mode. But that day the camera was new. The audio also got recorded and it was sent to the media from the official mail ID. There is no sabotage. It was a blunder. We have chargesheeted two people. Charges are already framed. If they accept their guilt, we will punish them. If they deny, we will constitute an inquiry committee. But it is clear that it was a blunder. The video was not leaked, it was released officially,” he added.
What was the conversation?
It is learnt that the conversation had started in Cabinet when the chief minister purportedly inquired about the health of another minister, who had a cold.
The minister allegedly told the CM that he was taking medicine but it was not helping. To this, another minister allegedly said he would have to be given a special medicine. Meanwhile, another minister (also recorded in the video) allegedly said he had given him this medicine during bypolls and he felt better immediately.
The chief minister is then allegedly heard telling them not to consume the medicine as they all laugh. One of the Cabinet ministers is then allegedly heard referring to “kaali davai”, following which another minister is also allegedly heard repeating it.