Leaders seek to derive political mileage from Batala - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Leaders seek to derive political mileage from Batala

Leaders seek to derive political mileage from Batala

Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Batala, September 12

The explosion site here has become the new ‘ground zero’ for leaders keen to derive political mileage as the calamity has got relegated to the sidelines with the MLA Simarjit Bains-DC Vipul Ujwal spat getting all the attention.

A week after a series of blasts, residents of the town are slowly coming to grips with the changed scenario. The disaster devoured 24 lives, maimed several and also put the working of the enforcement agencies under the scanner.

The bitter truth is that with officials busy in expressing solidarity with their DC, the magisterial probe, announced by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to study the factors leading to the blasts and also put a lid on the simmering anger of the residents, is yet to kick-off.

With the media descending on the city in good numbers in the past few days, battle-scarred politicians sensed a perfect opportunity for photo-op and they too started arriving in droves, with many bringing their personal videographers along with them.

Many, like former SAD MLA Gurbachan Singh Babbehali, made a laughing stock of himself by turning up at the civil hospital a day after the last of the injured had left. “What else can you expect from the Akalis?” Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said.

Congress politicians too took the opportunity to spar with each other. Two days after the CM paid a visit, Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa came out all guns blazing against him.

While the CM announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of each of the deceased, Bajwa was quick to ignite a political spark by insisting the payment should be enhanced to Rs 25 lakh.

His logic was that the geneses of the tragedy lay at the door of the administration. “Residents had given numerous petitions to the SDM but nobody took cognizance. Had officials reacted on time, the calamity could have been averted,” said Bajwa.

When MLA Balwinder Laddi, a known Bajwa protégé, requested the CM for an enhancement, he invited an immediate jibe from former MP Sunil Jakhar, who was accompanying Amarinder. “Why cannot Bajwa pay the difference in the amount from his own pocket?” Jakhar retorted publicly, taking Laddi and others by surprise.

Bajwa also castigated the CM for his decision to appoint an ADC-rank officer to conduct the probe.

“The ADC is too junior an officer to be given such a big responsibility. Moreover, there are chances that he will be susceptible to political pressure. How can we expect him to do justice? The inquiry, instead, should be held by a retired judge of the high court,” said Bajwa.

Residents agree with the MP. “All firecracker units are running with political patronage. Even this one was being aided by local Congress leaders,” said Jashandeep Singh, pointing towards the ruins of the factory.

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