Akalis livid at ignoring Badals at hospital ceremony

Indo Asian News Service

Chandigarh, Oct 10 (IANS) The controversy over laying the foundation stone of a 300-bedded hospital in Punjab's Sangrur district Thursday refuses to die down as leaders of the state's ruling Akali Dal are angry over their exclusion from the event.

Upset over Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal not being invited for the ceremony, Akali Dal leaders announced they will give gold medals to the duo for bringing the project - a satellite institute of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) of Chandigarh - to the state.

The stone laying became an all-Congress affair with union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad doing it in the presence of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and a string of union ministers, Congress MPs and state party leaders.

Akali Dal leader and former union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said the medals to the Badals would be given at the same spot where Gandhi addressed a public meeting Thursday.

"Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has tried to make political capital over a sacred issue like cancer treatment. People of Sangrur and Punjab are aware that it was the chief minister who had proposed the project. The Akali Dal is keen to honour him for the same," Dhindsa said in a statement here.

Chief Minister Badal claimed he was not invited to the function despite the Punjab government giving 25 acres of land for the hospital project free of cost.

An upset Badal Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh objecting to the move to sideline the Punjab government and him on this issue.