FOUR-TIME Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) legislator from Patti and former cabinet minister Adesh Partap Singh Karion faced the first defeat of his career Saturday. Drug addiction was a major election issue in Punjab and Patti has been badly hit by the menace. Registering his first victory against Karion following three consecutive defeats, Congress candidate Harminder Singh Gill said drug addiction was the biggest issue in Patti, which is part of border district Tarn Taran.
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Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adhes Partap Singh Karion based his election campaign on the Atta-Dal scheme run by his department. He had claimed that there were 36,000 beneficiaries of Atta Dal schemes in Patti city alone. He was unavailable for comment Saturday.
Patti had hit headlines last year when a man, Mukhtiar Singh Patti, had taken out procession across the town with dead body of his son on his shoulders and submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that his son was a victim of drug addiction.
Gill said, “Our chief minister is willing to fight drug menace and thus it will not be difficult to curb supply of drugs.”
He said, “Our second priority will be to deal with drug addicts. They need support and sympathy. We will make plan to bring them back in the mainstream.” Gill was defeated in 2012 by just 59 votes and had lost by 30,000 votes in 2002. Patti falls in ‘Panthak’ district in Tarn Taran where SAD was always strong but lost all four assembly constituencies to Congress in results declared on Saturday.
Gill was also defeated from the Khadoor Sahib Parliamentary seat in 2014 by SAD candidate Ranjit Singh Brahmpura. Gill finally tasted success and won seat by 8,363 votes. He polled 64,671 votes against 56,254 for Karion. AAP candidate Ranjit Singh Cheema got 18,489 votes. Patti has two drug de-addiction centres: An opioid substitution therapy centre and one drug rehabilitation centre.
Mukhtiar Singh Patti, who runs Kaffan Bol Peya, said, “I request the new government to first conduct a survey on deaths due to drug addiction. There is a need to cut the drug supply. I hope new government will understand the problem and its gravity.”