Congress defends Rahul Gandhi's comment on Punjab youth and drugs

Last Updated: Fri, Oct 12, 2012 15:44 hrs

Chandigarh: The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the opposition Congress in Punjab Friday traded charges over Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's controversial remark on drugs and Punjab youths.

While an Akali leader demanded that a dope test be conducted on Rahul Gandhi and his brother-in-law Robert Vadra, the Congress in turn asked the Akali leadership not to get into a "denial mode" on drug abuse among youths in the state.

Akali general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra demanded that a dope test be conducted on Gandhi and Vadra.

He also demanded an apology from Gandhi for his remark that "seven out of 10 youths in Punjab have the problem of drugs". Gandhi made the comment while addressing a youth rally at Panjab University campus here Thursday.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal Friday rubbished Gandhi's statement, saying that he had insulted Punjab's youths.

Badal told media here: "The immature statement of the Congress general secretary is a diversionary exercise to deflect the attention of the media from the ongoing Vadra-gate and Coalgate."

He held the union home ministry, under whom the Border Security Force (BSF) comes, responsible for not taking steps to curb trans-border smuggling along the 553 km-long India-Pakistan border in Punjab.

In response, Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh advised Badal not to run away from the drugs issue by getting into a denial mode.

"This is characteristic of Akalis to go into the denial mode and run away from the real problem. They should take serious note of it and take remedial steps to curb the drugs menace," Amarinder Singh said.

Justifying Gandhi's statement, Amarinder pointed out that it was the Akali government of Punjab which (in 2009) submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the youths in Punjab were afflicted by the problem of drug addiction.

"Rahulji has only re-stated the facts the Punjab government submitted under oath to the honourable High Court. Even a United Nations Development Fund survey had found that about 70 percent of Punjab youths had tried one type of drug or the other at some point of time," he pointed out.

Badal, he said, was "either ignorant of the ground realities and the facts and figures accepted by his own government or was deliberately hiding the facts".

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