Cong demands apology from SAD for remarks against Rahul

New Delhi: Congress today demanded an apology from Akali Dal for making "uncalled for and undignified remarks" against Rahul Gandhi over his "flagging" the problem of drug addiction in Punjab.

Accusing the ruling part in Punjab of reacting with "arrogance coupled with ignorance", Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also produced a 2009 affidavit by Punjab government and a decision of Punjab and Haryana High Court to hammer home the point that 70 per cent youths of the state are indeed suffering from drug addiction, a point made by Rahul Gandhi in Chandigarh yesterday.

Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul's remark that seven out of 10 youths in Punjab have a drug problem triggered a controversy with ruling Akali Dal asking how the Congress leader came to this "mathematical conclusion" on drug addiction in the state.

A top official of Punjab government had reportedly called Rahul Gandhi a "national joke" while Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today termed Rahul's statement as "immature" and said he made the remarks to divert attention from various scams.

Quoting from a Punjab High Court order dated 26 July this year, Tewari said that 2006 survey had it that drug addiction in Punjab is 70 percent and added that Gandhi has only served to flag the enormity of the problem once again at the NSUI programme in Chandigarh yesterday.

"The whole of Punjab is in the grip of drug hurricane. The virbant Punjab today is living in dazed stupor as 67 percent of rural households of the state have at least one drug addict," Tewari quoted the court as saying and defended Gandhi's yesterday remarks.

The Congress spokesperson also cited an affidavit filed by the then Additional Advocate General J S Bhullar in the High Court in 2009, which said that 70 percent of boys and girls in Punjab in the age group of 19-24 years are exposed to the drug abuse and a staggering 75 percent of Punjab's youth is hooked to drug abuse.

"Rather than realising the enormity of the challenge, the SAD-BJP government has reacted with their sense of classical arrogance coupled with ignorance", Tewari said launching a scathing attack on Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

"They have to apologise for the uncharitable, uncalled for and undignified remarks, they made yesterday. They should realise that the buck stops at their end and infact thank Rahul Gandhi for once again flagging it to their attention, which is in fact the responsibility of the state government," Tewari said.

Hitting out at Rahul, Sukhbir today said it "was a diversionary exercise to deflect the attention of media from ongoing Vadragate and Coalgate." With such statement, Sukhbir said, Rahul had insulted
youths of Punjab.

PTI