Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal with Prem Singh Chandumajra and BJP leader Prof Rajinder Bhandari (right) at the Maghi Mela in Muktsar, Tuesday. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)
The annual Maghi Mela saw return of the political slugfest on its day one as Congress and Akali Dal sparred over power tariff hikes in the state. While SAD blamed Congress of burdening the masses due to its poor handling of the matter, the ruling party blamed MoUs signed by the previous Akali government for the problem.
At the political conference organised by SAD in Muktsar to mark the Maghi Mela, party chief Sukhbir Badal said: “Before Akali Government came into power, power cuts were troubling the state and industry was suffering. We had two options, either to invest Rs 25,000 crore to set up thermal plants or to bring in private players to set up thermal plants. We followed the second option. Private plants are giving us power at Rs 2.86 per unit while PSPCL’s thermal Lehra Mohabbat is giving us power at Rs 5 a unit. We were fighting a court case over coal supply during our tenure. We won that case in lower court. But Congress government could not contest and hence has to pay Rs 14,000 crore to the coal company. This is because of inefficiency of Congress government or they were hand in glove with thermals as we never wanted to compromise on quality of coal for which we were contesting in court. This is the burden on consumer, which is coming as hike in tariff.”
He added, “We used to give subsidies to PSPCL well in time. Congress is not even able to provide that due to which PSPCL has taken loan from bank due to which they are paying interest worth Rs 3000 crore per annum. All these factors are resulting in tariff hike while in our government there was no such issue at all.”
Congress’s counter attack was led by Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa who had come to pay obeisance at Gurduwara Tutti Gandi Sahib and Gurdwara Shaeedan Sahib. Congress has not organised a political conference this year. Talking to mediapersons, Bajwa said: “MoUs signed by former SAD-BJP government are the actual reason behind the hike of power rates in which they have given special favours to the private thermals. “
Bajwa also said that by holding political conferences on holy occasions, SAD was violating the edict of Akal Takht and hurting the sentiments of devotees.
Meanwhile, Bajwa during his trip to Muktsar, also inaugurated the robotic machine project at Akal Academy School for cleaning manholes. He lauded the project, which is initiated under the ‘Mera Muktsar, Mera Maan’ mission by the district administration under the directives of Punjab government.
Sukhbir in his speech justified SAD’s political conference and stated that they were following the Guru’s principles of ‘Miri Piri’ which say that “religion and politics should go hand in hand”.
He once again warned police officials for allegedly loding fake FIRs against Akalis and said that he would send them to jail once SAD is voted back to power. The Akali Dal chief also accused Congress MLAs of having a nexus with gangsters in the state.
On the issue of drug menace, he said: “Punjab CM had said that he will wipe out drugs. He always blamed us for this problem, but have they been able to book even a single Akali on drug issue? Capt won elections by telling lies. He is now just enjoying as he knows this is his last term as CM.”