New Delhi/Chandigarh: Congress and Akali Dal clashed today over Rahul Gandhi’s remark on drug addiction in Punjab with a demand made to the state’s ruling party for an apology for the “uncharitable and undignified” comment against him.
The Akali Dal on its part termed as “immature” Rahul’s remark yesterday that seven out of 10 youths in Punjab have a drug problem, saying it was an attempt to divert attention from various scams dogging the UPA government.
Congress said the remarks against the AICC General Secretary for “flagging” the problem of drug addiction in Punjab was “uncharitable, uncalled for and indignified.”
Accusing the Akali Dal of reacting with “arrogance coupled with ignorance”, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari produced a 2009 affidavit by Punjab government and an order of Punjab and Haryana High Court to drive home the point that 70 percent youths in the state are indeed suffering from drug addiction.
Quoting from a Punjab High Court order dated July 26 this year, Tewari said a 2006 survey had it that drug addiction in Punjab is 70 percent and added that Rahul has only served to flag the enormity of the problem once again at the NSUI programme in Chandigarh.
“The whole of Punjab is in the grip of drug hurricane. The vibrant Punjab today is living in dazed stupor as 67 percent of rural households of the state have at least one drug addict,” Tewari quoted the court as saying and defended Rahul’s remarks.
The Congress spokesperson also cited an affidavit filed by the then Additional Advocate General J S Bhullar in the High Court in 2009, which said 70 percent of boys and girls in Punjab in the age group of 19-24 years are exposed to drug abuse and a staggering 75 percent of Punjab’s youth is hooked to drug abuse.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “The immature statement by the Congress general secretary… was a diversionary exercise to deflect the attention of media from ongoing Vadragate and Coalgate.”
With such statement, Sukhbir said, Rahul had insulted youths of Punjab and tried to cover up the “internal contradictions and infighting” in the Punjab unit of Congress.
Besides questioning the basis for the “mathematical conclusion”, the Akali Dal reportedly called Rahul a “national joke” for his remark on drug addiction.