Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Sunday accused the opposition party leaders of running away from the November 1 open debate out of fear of being exposed for their “misdeeds.” In a lighter vein, he said the leaders, should they choose to come, will be welcomed by drinks of their choice.
“Their favourite refreshments, like diet coke and pizza for Sukhbir Badal, black coffee for Bajwa, a glass of kinnow juice for Jakhar and tea for Warring,” Mr Mann said.
A few days ago, Mr Mann had dared Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, leader of opposition in Punjab assembly Partap Singh Bajwa, and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal for an open debate on several issues concerning the state.
The challenge was thrown by him amid opposition parties’ criticism of his government over the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal issue.
The debate is scheduled to be held in the auditorium of the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana on November 1.
Addressing a gathering in Chandigarh after giving appointment letters to new recruits hired across several government departments, Mr Mann alleged that the opposition leaders were hand-in glove with those who ruined the state and that is why they are running away from the debate.
“Not only the SYL (Sutlej Yamuna Link canal), I want to debate on all issues related to Punjab. How farming turned into a loss making occupation. How the water was taken from our rivers. How the drug nexus spread. How our business migrated to other states and how our youth started moving out to other countries,” he said.
“But they are making excuses … They will not come because they cannot speak the truth,” Mann said, adding, he will go to the debate.
Shiromani Akali Dal has already stated that the debate announced by the ruling AAP was “sham” and the party would not be part of this “anti-Punjab exercise.” Jakhar has suggested that a three-member panel be formed to steer the debate and proposed the names of former MP Dharamvira Gandhi, former MLA HS Phoolka, and Kanwar Sandhu.
Mr Bajwa demanded that the debate be moderated by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a person on whom political parties agree.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)