Dakha, October 17- Even as he cornered Sukhbir Badal over the Akali Dal’s ambiguous links with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday charged the Akali leader with putting Punjab’s water claim at stake by supporting the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the Haryana elections.

Given INLD’s stand on the water issue, anyone siding with the Chatualas was clearly a threat to Punjab’s water rights, said the Chief Minister. While extending support to the INLD and pitching against the BJP in Haryana, Sukhbir and his party were, at the same time allying with the latter in Punjab, Captain Amarinder pointed out, describing the Akali leader as a power-hungry politician who had no moral scruples or principles. Sukhbir’s behaviour had also exposed the fissures between the SAD and BJP, said the Chief Minister, adding that a split in the alliance in Punjab seemed more than imminent.

Reiterating his protest against the tax imposed by Pakistan on pilgrims travelling to Kartarpur Sahib, Captain Amarinder said his government would continue to fight for the simplification of the procedures to travel via the Corridor to pay their obeisance at the historic gurdwara.

In informal chats with mediapersons during his roadshow in Dakha – the Chief Minister said the poor devotees desirous of visiting the gurdwara during the 550th Prakash Purb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji could not afford taxes and passports. These things, he said, were against the ideology of `khulle darshan’, which his government was fighting for.

A euphoric crowd greeted the Chief Minister all along the Dakha constituency as his convoy passed through Latala Mandi, and moving via Chhapar, Dhurkot, Gujjarwal, Chaminda, Jodhan, Khandoor, Jangpur, Jassowal, Hans Kalan, etc, before culminating at village Roomi. The enthusiasm of the people showed that the mood was completely in favour of the Congress once again, said Captain Amarinder, reiterating that the party was all set to sweep the byelections in all the four seats.

Listing development as the key issue in these bypolls, the Chief Minister said the work done by the Congress government in the state over the last two and a half years spoke for itself, and the people would once again vote for this positive agenda of his party. His government had ensured smooth procurement of paddy, had announced health insurance for all, had powered the state’s industrialization and waived off farm debts, which the people had acknowledged and repeatedly endorsed with their votes, he pointed out.

Asked about the Bargari sacrilege cases, the Chief Minister said his government was committed to delivering justice to the victims and bringing the culprits to book. The SIT was moving expeditiously to investigate the cases and bring them to their logical conclusion, he added.

To a question on the problem of drugs, Captain Amarinder said a lot had been achieved though problems remained as Pakistan continued to smuggle narcotics into Punjab, which was also getting drugs from Nepal, Kashmir, Delhi and Kandla, among other places. The state government had joined forces with the neighbouring states and was successfully battling the menace, he added.

The Chief Minister lamented the state of the Indian economy under the BJP-led regime, and said only the Congress could bring the nation back on the path of growth and development. To a question on the citizenship row in Assam, he said the Congress stands with those against whom any excesses were being allegedly committed under the guise of the NRC revision. “How can you declare a soldier who has fought in the Indian Army for 24 years a foreigner?” he asked.

In response to a question, he said that the constituency had been completely neglected by Mr Phoolka and he had come today in support of Captain Sandeep Sandhu, who had been serving the Congress party with great commitment for the past almost 13 years. Sandhu, said the Chief Minister, would carry the same commitment to the constituency and as Chief Minister he would nurture the constituency with full support of the government.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by senior Congress leaders including, Ravneet Bittu,
Amar Singh, Vijay Inder Singla, Kikki Dhillon and
Amrik Singh Aliwal.