Punjab's dogfight who is king ??
Chandigarh December 18
One is an erstwhile Punjab king who calls his political opponent a kitten. And now the teething kitten is trying to bite back.
Erstwhile royal and former chief minister Amarinder Singh of the Congress and ruling Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal - both hailing from the most distinguished families in the state's present political scene - are engaged in a bitter dogfight.
For Amarinder Singh, calling Sukhbir Badal a 'balungra' - Punjabi for kitten - is nothing new. The reference started when the Congress and the Akalis were engaged in a bitter run-up to state assembly elections in February last year. The Akalis won the elections to form a new government in Punjab.
What is new now is that Sukhbir Badal is hitting back. On Sunday he said that five to six more vigilance cases would be slapped against Amarinder Singh. Amarinder Singh has written a letter to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is Sukhbir Badal's father, objecting to the statement.
The objection by Amarinder Singh is to the fact that Badal Jr, as Akali Dal president, does not have the capacity to speak on behalf of the vigilance department, a wing of the Punjab police. He has alleged that Sukhbir Badal's statement clearly showed that cases were being slapped against him and other Congress leaders on the basis of political vendetta.
"In what capacity is he speaking on behalf of the vigilance bureau?" Amarinder Singh asked. Amarinder Singh is facing vigilance cases in the multimillion rupee Ludhiana City Centre scam in which his then local bodies minister Jagjit Singh has also been named along with 12 others for causing losses to the state by giving the contract for the mega project to a particular New Delhi-based construction company.
Amarinder Singh, who obtained a partial stay on his arrest in the case, claims that Sukhbir Badal's statement showed that cases were being registered against him and other Congress leaders to settle scores. He said Sukhbir was openly using the vigilance bureau to frame him. "We will fight this out. This government has done nothing other than hounding Congress leaders," Amarinder Singh said.
The former chief minister says he is equally upset that even grassroots Congress activists are being harassed throughout Punjab at the behest of the Akali leadership. "Over 7,500 Congress activists are facing cases. I will personally avenge these when the Congress comes back to power," Amarinder Singh recently declared during a political roadshow near Amritsar.
The Badals were at the receiving end during Congress rule from 2002 to 2007, with cases of corruption and disproportionate assets being slapped on them. They were even put behind bars for a few days.