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Centre ready to walk Modi’s talk on drugs

A week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came down heavily on the issue of drug menace in the country during his monthly radio programme, Mann ki Baat, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Sunday issued summons to Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia in connection with a drug racket case. Bikram Singh Majithia is also the younger brother of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the wife of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal.

This is a major blow to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab which is running a coalition government with the BJP. Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma demanded Majithia’s resignation following the issuance of summon.

Drug menace had become a crucial matter during this year’s Lok Sabha polls, especially in Amritsar constituency, from where Akali-BJP candidate Arun Jaitley lost. One of the main accusations made by Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party during the polls was that politicians from ruling SAD were running drug cartels. Majithia was managing Jaitely’s poll campaign. The ED has summoned Majithia to appear before it on December 26 in connection with alleged money laundering in the Rs 6,000-crore drug racket case. Official sources said he is likely to be questioned on December 26 at 11 am at the directorate’s office in Jalandhar.

According to reports, the central agency has also finalised a questionnaire that would be put in front of Majithia. The 25-page document simply entitled ‘Questionnaire for Bikram Singh Majithia’ contains more than 50 questions pertaining to personal and business details. Last year, with the arrest of former policeman Jagdish Singh Bhola, the drug racket was busted. As per reports, he too had named Majithia in the case.

Defending Majithia on the issue, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “A person getting a ‘summon’ doesn’t mean that person is a criminal.” Meanwhile, SAD’s alliance partner in the state government has questioned Majithia’s role asking him resign. 

The state opposition Congress also demanded Majithia’s immediate resignation. “The ED can only interrogate on money laundering, but there are more serious charges of abetting,” said Partap Bajwa, chief of Punjab State Congress on Sunday. “If the Prime Minister wants a thorough probe, either the CBI or a sitting judge should monitor the entire thing,” said Bajwa. Senior advocate and AAP member HS Phoolka said, “He must resign from the ministry and the inquiry should be shifted out of Punjab immediately.” 
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