Sukhbir Badal’s brother-in-law in Congress’ line of fire (Punjab Newsletter)

Chandigarh, Dec 21: Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal is arguably the most important and powerful man in Punjab’s ruling circles these days, but the person taking maximum advantage of this is his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia even as some incidents in recent months have brought Majithia into the line of fire of the opposition Congress.

The latest run-in between Majithia and the Congress leadership was on Wednesday over the abusive language used by him against Congress legislator and millionaire industrialist Rana Gurjeet Singh during the assembly session this week. While the treasury benches and the opposition accused each other of using abusive and unparliamentary language, Majithia seems to be at the centre of all controversies.

Members from both sides advanced menacingly towards each other and had to be physically restrained by other members.

Congress leaders claim that Majithia, using Badal’s clout, is raising a private army of “goondas” to let loose a reign of terror in the state.

“Bikram is already grooming criminal elements through the Youth Akali Dal and his Bikram Sena to firm up his grip over the (Akali Dal) party, besides providing patronage to proclaimed offenders from across Punjab and outside,” former chief minister and Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh said.

Majithia, 37, is revenue and information minister in the Punjab government, which is headed by Sukhbir’s father, Parkash Singh Badal.

Congress leaders allege that an Akali Dal leader, arrested recently in Amritsar for killing a uniformed Punjab Police assistant sub-inspector who had tried to stop him from harassing his young daughter, was a clear example of criminals being given a free hand to join the ruling party.

“The blatant goondaism displayed by the Sukhbir-Majithia duo in the Vidhan Sabha (assembly) only indicates that there is jungle raj not only on the streets of Punjab but in the Vidhan Sabha as well. The abusive and unparliamentary language used by Bikram Majithia is doing the rounds on the YouTube across the world,” senior Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira pointed out.

“The open threats of Sukhbir Badal that he will not allow the Vidhan Sabha to function for five years if the Congress MLA did not apologise are indicative of his arrogant and ruthless character. Sukhbir Badal, in fact, even bulldozed his beleaguered father into being a mute spectator while Majithia hurled abuses,” Khaira added.

Sukhbir Badal, however, defended his brother-in-law (wife Harsimrat Badal’s younger brother), claimed that a senior Congress leader moved towards the treasury benches “to attack one of our ministers”.

“I saw him charging with deadly aggression towards the treasury benches to attack one of our ministers who was speaking from his designated seat at that time,” Sukhbir Badal said in a statement in the assembly Thursday.

But Amarinder Singh blamed Majithia for Wednesday’s ruckus in the house.

“He (Majithia) is an Aurangzeb in the making with all the attributes of a despot and dictator like arrogance, ambition and ruthlessness. I wish you (Badal) a long life to stay around for a long time, but the day you are not around, I am sure, Bikram will take no time in usurping your position like Aurangzeb did to his own brothers and father,” Amarinder Singh said.

He warned that the “goondas” being harboured by Akalis, especially by Majithia, “will one day backfire on the Akalis themselves”.

“The Akalis will face the music one day. If they think they are using the goondas to create terror it will backfire and they will have nowhere to run then,” Amarinder Singh added.

Majithia, however, denied all the allegations against him.

“The Congress leadership is perturbed and frustrated at being out of power. They are making baseless accusations,” Majithia said.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaiddeep.s@ians.in)

IANS