CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today dismissed SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal's call to de-politicise the fight against drug abuse in the state as a "political gimmick", even as the government machinery continued to figure out its appropriate response to the curb the menace.
Singh said Badal's call to fight the problem unitedly was an attempt to divert public attention from his alleged failure in controlling the drug problem during his 10-year rule.
On Monday, Badal had urged all Punjabis to rise above political affiliations for a comprehensive war against the "common enemy".
But he had also accused the Congress government of failing to eradicate the menace from the state.
The issue has gained political traction after several people reportedly died in the state last month due to drug abuse.
According to media reports, two people died in Punjab's Faridpur and Amritsar districts due to drug abuse.
The Akal Takht Jathedar last week urged the Punjab government to take immediate measures to curb the menace.
The Punjab chief minister has said he was willing to take dope test after demands from opposition parties and from within the Congress, that politicians should be made to undergo the tests as had been mandated for government employees.
The opposition Shiromani Akali Dal and the ruling Congress have blamed each other for failing to tackle the problem.
Criticising Badal for what he said was his desperate attempt to take a moral high ground on the issue, Singh said the opposition leader was now talking to fight it together.
The chief minister alleged that a generation was "ruined" to drug abuse during the previous rule of the SAD in Punjab.
He challenged the SAD president to cite one instance when they had sought political consensus on any issue, including the drug menace, during their time in governing the state.
Singh instead cited the improved fiscal health of Punjab and his government's success in eliminating top gangsters.
"We have been able to stabilise the law and order situation and put an effective check on the sacrilege cases that were widespread during your (Badal's) mis-governance.
And we have done all this without your advice or help, Sukhbir Badal," the chief minister said in a statement.
He said he would prefer to fight the menace alone and not take help of the Akalis and the Aam Aadmi Party, citing the "precedent" set by the parties in the assembly.
"You cannot fool the people of Punjab with your fabrications any longer."
Later a government official said they are taking a three-pronged strategy based on enforcement, de-addiction and prevention to tackle the problem.