Jalandhar: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today made a searing attack on the Akali Dal-led government in Punjab, accusing it of encouraging the illegal trade of drugs in the state and promising to end the menace in a month if the Congress is voted to power in assembly elections to be held early next year.
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"The government here encourages the drug trade because it benefits them. We can solve the problem in one month if we are voted to power," Mr Gandhi said, also explaining how.
"All that needs to be done is give the police a free hand. Free them from the clutches of the Akalis. Once that is done, the business of drugs can be ended in four weeks," the Congress vice president said.
He also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he said, "Modiji speaks of ease of doing business. The only business which is easy to do in Punjab is that of drugs."
The Congress leader blamed the Akali Dal and the BJP, allies both in the state and at the Centre, for the trouble that Bollywood film Udta Punjab, based on drug abuse in Punjab, has had with the censor board.
"Today they are banning the film Udta Punjab because they don't want to admit the truth, because it is profitable for them," Mr Gandhi alleged.
Mr Gandhi's rally came as the Aam Aadmi Party attacked the Congress for handing charge of its affairs in Punjab to senior leader Kamal Nath, bringing up allegations against him of involvement in the anti-Sikh Delhi riots of 1984, an emotive election issue in the state.
Mr Nath has pointed out that a commission of inquiry absolved him of those charges and accused AAP of a political attack to re-energise a flagging campaign.
Arvind Kejriwal's party has also attacked the Congress and Mr Gandhi, accusing them of not addressing Punjab's drug issue when the party was in power for 10 years till 2014.
AAP has turned the Punjab election into a three-sided contest and is in contest with the Congress to appropriate the drug abuse issue as a key election issue.
In its first national election in 2014, AAP had won all its four Lok Sabha seats from Punjab.