Drugs, SAD leaders' brushes with law dent Punjab image in 2013

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 20, 2013 05:01 hrs

Chandigarh: The year 2013 saw ruling SAD-BJP in Punjab winning civic polls convincingly and fissures in Congress while Akali leaders' repeated brushes with law and unearthing of a multi-crore drug racket brought disrepute to the state.

The year began with Akali Dal securing a landslide victory in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) polls, which analysts attributed to SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal's micro-management.

Congress continued to struggle to hold political ground in the state against the Badal clan, especially Sukhbir, his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's political acumen. It replaced its party head -- former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with Majha leader Partap Singh Bajwa.

But that did not seem to help the party much as senior leaders Joginderpal Jain and Avtar Singh Brar switched loyalties and joined SAD.

Fissures in the party came out in the open after Amarinder challenged Bajwa's authority in announcing possible Lok Sabha candidates. Later Bajwa admitted his mistake. And as if this was not enough, both Bajwa and Amarinder indulged in an ugly spat in front of none other than Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Sangrur towards the year end.

SAD-BJP combine candidate Jain drubbed Congress nominee Vijay Sathi in the Moga by-poll in March.

Stamping its supremacy, the SAD-BJP combine swept the zila parishad and panchayat samiti polls in May.

The menace of drug addiction continued to haunt the government. The busting of Bhola-Kahlon gang towards the end of the year exposed new aspects of mass production of narcotics in the state and involvement of drug money in politics.

In March, police arrested NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon and seized drugs valued at Rs 130 core. His questioning revealed that kingpin was Jagdish Singh Bhola, a dismissed DSP of Punjab Police, who procured drugs from across the border and smuggled these to other parts of the country.

Kahlon's grilling led police to arrest boxer Ram Singh, a roommate of Olympic medalist Vijender Singh.

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