Chandigarh : Winter is setting in, but the political climate in Punjab is heating up in the run-up to the state assembly elections likely in February-March next year. But adding a dash of spice is the language used by top political leaders against one another.
Terms like ‘golak chors’ (thieves who steal donation boxes at religious places), ‘maha chor’ (big time robbers), ‘alcoholic’, ‘drunk leader’, ‘bi-polar disorder’, ‘vulgar’, ‘liar’ and ‘traitor’ are part of the vocabulary being spewed by senior political leaders.
The tirade started with former chief minister and Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh mincing no words in describing the Badals – Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal – as ‘golak chors’ and ‘maha chor’.
“They are not only maha-chors but also golak chors,” Amarinder Singh has been saying at his political rallies in recent days while alleging misuse of funds at religious places by Akali Dal leaders.
“Whether it is sand, liquor, transport, cable and now the golak, they have not spared anything in the last nearly five years. I wonder how Badal’s family has continuously grown richer and richer while Punjab is getting poorer,” Amarinder said.
The Congress leader has alleged that the Badals have colluded with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of Sikh religions which manages gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, in looting money coming from millions of devotees to Sikh shrines.
Alleging that the Badals had not even spared the Guru’s money, he said: “For the first time in history, Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) had shown a deficit of Rs.24 crore. Where did the money go despite huge offerings made daily by devotees?” he asked.
While the Akali Dal and the SGPC reacted sharply to the accusations and the language used by Amarinder, Parkash Singh Badal has tried to downplay the use of harsh words.
“The language used in his public rallies is not that of a gentleman and the wise voters of the state would teach him lesson for it in the coming polls. It is unfortunate that by using such derogatory language against political rivals, leaders like Amarinder Singh are vitiating the atmosphere of the state,” Badal, 84, said.
“I even respect Captain Amarinder Singh but due to my firm faith in morality in public life, I cannot reply to him in his words,” Badal said.
But Badal’s mild reaction has not deterred other senior Akali Dal leaders from hitting back at Amarinder Singh.
Sukhbir Badal has accused him of massive corruption and stashing away Rs.400 crore in a Swiss bank account.
Youth Akali Dal president Bikram Singh Majithia has even demanded “that a breathalyzer test should be conducted on Amarinder every time he gets off the stage after delivering his speeches”.
Majithia said Amarinder’s speeches were “incoherent, abusive and even vulgar”.
“Something is seriously wrong and intriguing there. His speeches and his conduct closely resemble that of an alcoholic. No sober person can deliver such long winded, meaningless and bumbling speeches as Captain Amarinder Singh has been doing in recent weeks, nor resort to vulgarity in speech in the presence of ladies and children.”
“His reckless ravings that cross the limits of social decorum are typical of people suffering either from a serious personality disorder, needing psychiatric diagnosis, or of those given to alcoholism and substance abuse,” Majithia said in a statement.
Majithia said experts were saying these could be “strong symptoms of Bipolar affective disorder”.
Majithia’s onslaught against Amarinder brought a reaction from Congress legislator Sukhpal Khaira, who said: “Unlike the Akali Dal, the Congress is not a party of sons, sons-in-law and brothers-in-law where tickets are not only sold but auctioned among the claimants and people like him (Majithia is a brother-in-law of Sukhbir Badal) act like brokers.”
Akali Dal legislator Virsa Singh Valtoha called Amarinder the “fountainhead of corruption in Punjab” after Punjab Police recently found Rs.3.5 crore in cash from two vehicles near Rajpura town. The money was meant for a land deal being done by a Youth Congress leader.
“Amarinder did not want to be left behind the big scamsters belonging to his party at the national level,” Valtoha said.
The ruling Akali Dal leaders are also not sparing Badal’s nephew and former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal who has floated his own political outfit, terming him a “liar” and “traitor”.