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Punjab assembly budget session sees unprecedented aggression and crude language

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The session witnessed several acerbic exchanges between known enemies but some players were seen to have stooped to unprecedented lows.

Chandigarh: The choicest of Punjabi abuses, personal and below-the-belt attacks as well as verbal duels among top leaders marked the seven-day budget session of the Punjab assembly that concluded Wednesday.

The session witnessed several acerbic exchanges between known enemies but some players were seen to have stooped to unprecedented lows.

The impact of the proceedings of this session is expected to be seen in the state’s politics in the coming days with battle lines clearly drawn. ThePrint lists some of the fiery episodes in the assembly in the past week:

Manpreet Singh Badal vs Sukhbir Singh Badal

The estranged first cousins literally washed the Badal family’s dirty linen in public this time. SAD leader Sukhbir Badal launched a frontal attack on finance minister Manpreet Tuesday. Without taking his name, the former deputy CM ridiculed him for using Urdu poet Iqbal’s verses in his budget speeches.

“Iqbal wrote Saare jahan se achha Hindustan hamara but went on to help divide India. Iqbal made brothers fight and so did Manpreet,” said Sukhbir referring to the separation of his father, former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, from his brother, Manpreet Badal’s father. Sukhbir called Manpreet an incompetent finance minister adding that like a true maharaja, chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh had a court poet with him but not an FM.

Manpreet responded to Sukhbir’s attack Wednesday in a wholly unexpected manner. Known for his smarts Manpreet, however, chose to level personal allegations against the Badal family (of which he was a part until a decade ago). “Government paid for the entire medical expense of Sukhbir’s father and mother (now deceased). Even at my taayiji’s bhog (Sukhbir’s mother’s ceremony) the SGPC paid for the langar,” Manpreet said.

“When the Majithia family married their daughter to Sukhbir, they could not even afford to give a fully paid car. The car which was given was on loan,” he added.

Sukhbir later told mediapersons that Manpreet’s “cheap and vulgar rant” had only exposed him. “He hides behind the façade of being a serious, scholarly politician. But he is full of lies and meanness which came out today. Please ask him who paid for his father’s treatment when he was in the hospital?” he asked.

“If I want, even I can start saying things publically about him, his wife and his brother-in law. But a certain level of discourse is maintained even among enemies,” added Sukhbir.

Rana Gurjit Singh vs Sukhpal Singh Khaira

Former power and irrigation minister Rana Gurjit Singh was attending his first session after being thrown out of the cabinet following allegations of his involvement in a benami sand mining contract. The person who had led the charge against him was leader of opposition and AAP MLA Sukhpal Khaira and Rana’s revulsion for Khaira was visible throughout the session.

Heckling and verbal barbs between the two gave way to a no-holds-barred flare-up Wednesday. Choicest of Punjabi abuses were hurled by both with aggressive posturing. Rana Gurjit levelled allegations of land grabbing and corruption against Khaira and his father (now deceased). Khaira constantly referred to allegations against Gurjit about his involvement in illegal sand mining.

Khaira had Tuesday dragged Gurjit’s name in the irrigation scam in which the main accused, a private contractor Gurinder Singh, had allegedly funded the benami sand mining auction bid. Gurjit took to calling Khaira and his father names.

The CM had to intervene and stop Khaira from retorting. He said nothing had been proven against Rana who he said had resigned on moral grounds.

Navjot Singh Sidhu vs Bikram Singh Majithia

The known animosity between local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia spilled over on the floor of the assembly. Sidhu has been demanding action on a probe report against the former revenue minister in a drug racket case and the two got into an argument over the issue in the assembly Thursday, the third day of the session.

The argument began with Majithia wanting to make a point during a discussion on imposition of GST. Sidhu stopped him leading to a heated exchange. Both started shouting at one another with Sidhu calling Majithia names which had to be expunged. When both refused to calm down the speaker adjourned the house for half an hour. The two, however, continued to shout at one another even as members streamed out of the assembly.

Later Sidhu told mediapersons that Majithia had no credibility to speak in the assembly as he had been hobnobbing with alleged drug smugglers. Majithia said he was being targeted. “I will expose Sidhu and his sources in the coming days,” he said.

Another verbal spat broke out between the two Tuesday. Sidhu had to be held by one of his party colleagues to stop the situation from turning ugly.

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