Curtain raiser: The SAD saga of Punjab

A once-rich state has to raise money by pledging widow ashrams even as the rulers increase personal wealth manifold

Neelam Gupta | February 17, 2016





Deepak Dhaba is a popular eatery on the Barnala-Sangrur highway. Truckers, drivers and passengers break their journey here for a tasty Punjabi meal. One day, the regulars to the place were told that its ownership had changed hands. Now, visitors talk in hushed tones about its new albeit unconfirmed owner, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Punjab’s deputy chief minister and son of octogenarian chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The story, part of the folklore about the Badals, is gaining currency in the state. For people, the Badals’ reputation for grab-any-flourishing-business-that-you-see is akin to J Jayalalithaa’s alleged penchant for buying or grabbing prime properties across Tamil Nadu once upon a time. However, Congress leader Sunil Jakhar swears by the Deepak Dhaba story. “I raised this issue in the assembly too. The Badal family has a mafia to execute such petty takeovers,” he told Governance Now.

Governance as Family Business

Almost a decade of power has seen the father-son duo and their extended family expand and consolidate their businesses. Their assets have soared manifold even as the state stands deep in debt – virtually broke. Its coffers are empty to the extent that the coalition government of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had to pledge widow ashrams and jail premises to raise funds for financial exigencies.

September last year saw people’s simmering anger, against the Badals, snowball into a state-wide agitation. Farmers, state government employees, religious leaders, villagers and even city dwellers – all came out on streets, for a variety of reasons. Cotton crop had failed because of spurious insecticides supplied by the state government agencies. The Akali Dal had misused Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC, Sikhism’s apex body) for political gains. The trigger for the SGPC revolt was an engineered pardon of ‘godman’ Ram Rahim.

The killing of two youths in a village in Faridkot by police and desecration of the Granth Sahib kept the agitation alive.

Also, for the first time since 1984, pro-Khalistan slogans were echoing in Punjab; banners demanding the utopian Sikh land were strewn across many roads. Chaos prevailed for over a month. The ‘panthic’, or religious, bodies and Khalistan supporters who had been lying low for decades were out for a kill. Suddenly a big drama was unfolding in the SGPC as 15 members resigned creating a crisis that necessitated a sarbat khalsa, a grand meet of all panthic bodies. It was lost on nobody that panthic bodies were turning against the Badals and the Akalis.

Read full story from February 16-29, 2016 issue  to know how governance has become a family business in the state.
 

Comments

 

Other News

Music is universal. It has no language: Vani Jairam

Vani Jairam’s childhood dream of becoming a playback singer was realised when veteran film music composer Vasant Desai gave her the opportunity to sing Bole Re Papi Hara and two other songs in the movie Guddi. After that, the multilingual singer went on to sing for eminent music per

Should there be death penalty for those involved in lynching?

Should there be death penalty for those involved in lynching?

Battle over cattle, Delhi govt schools lead the way and, why we must return to Gandhi & Tagore

On May 23 this year, the ministry of environment issued ‘Rules on prevention of cruelty to animals (regulation of livestock market)’ with the purported aim of regulating animal markets. When one reads the rules – notwithstanding the lame efforts from union ministers to issue clarificati

BEML unveils 9 MW capacity windmill park

  BEML, a mini ratna category-1 enterprise of the defence ministry, has set a target of using 100 percent renewable energy for its own consumption.   In this connection, BEML’s 9 MW Windmill Park installed at Bagalkot District in Karnataka was recently

BHEL registers increase in intellectual capital

  Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), a Maharatna enterprise, has recorded nearly 14 percent growth in its intellectual capital in 2016-17 fiscal. During the year, a record 508 patents and copyrights were filed by the company, translating into filing of nearly two patents/copyrights

NALCO partners with CII, Odisha for outreach programmes on GST

  National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) has joined hands with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), Odisha, to organise outreach programmes for industries and other stakeholders on GST implementation.   Series of interactive programmes are being



Video

पाकिस्तानी सेना कैमरे में कैद करना चाहती थी ये हमला

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter