Badal denies talks with Barnala

DW CORRESPONDENT

Chandigarh

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has denied any talks with Surjit Singh Barnala, a former Chief Minister and president of a splinter Longowal faction of Shiromani Akali Dal over the latterÔÇÖs reported likelihood to rejoin the ruling SAD, headed by BadalÔÇÖs son Sukhbir Singh Badal.

ÔÇ£I am completely unaware about the intentions of Barnala to rejoin the SAD,ÔÇØ said Badal, while refuting a media report that Barnala, a political ally of the Manpreet Singh Badal-led PeopleÔÇÖs Party of Punjab, was apparently making overtures in a bid to return to the ruling SAD fold.

Interacting with the media after inaugurating maiden Rural Science Congress of the country organised by Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) at Dashmesh Girls College of Education at his native Badal village on Saturday morning, the SAD patriarch said he had no inkling about the plans of Barnala to rejoin the SAD. ÔÇ£I had learnt about the same from the media report,ÔÇØ he mentioned.

Chief Minister clarified that neither Barnala nor any of his family members had ever met him to express their (BarnalaÔÇÖs) desire to rejoin the ruling SAD. He, however, said that any decision regarding the return of Barnala to the SAD fold would be taken by the party.

The media report had claimed that Barnala had broken ice with Badal recently in the backdrop of his desire for a homecoming and for resurrecting the near-dead political career of his former MLA son Gaganjit Singh Barnala.

Replying to another query, the Chief Minister rebutted the malicious propaganda of state Congress leadership regarding the politics of vendetta being pursued by SAD-BJP alliance government against the Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa.

Badal said that ever since the inception of his political career, he had always remained a votary of ÔÇÿmorality in politicsÔÇÖ and had never believed in the politics of vendetta and confrontation. He said that it was on record that the previous Congress government, led by Captain Amarinder Singh had unleashed terror against the SAD leaders by registering false cases against them under the policy of political vendetta whereas the alliance government was working on the constructive agenda to ensure overall development and progress of the state.

Earlier, addressing the mammoth gathering during the inauguration function, the Chief Minister exhorted the eminent scientists and delegates of the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) converged on the occasion to adopt ÔÇÿResult Oriented ApproachÔÇÖ for ensuring the development of the nation and its people.

He said that the deliberations of such conferences should not merely confine up to the records but something concrete must come out from them in the larger public interest.

Badal said that apart from paying attention to big issues the scientists must give due care towards the important issues like ensuring the disposal of contaminated water from the village ponds and cleaning of the rivers, which were concerned with every common man.

Lauding the ICSA for choosing the state for organising the first ever Rural Science Congress in the country, the Chief Minister expressed hope that it would inspire the students of Punjab to scale new heights in the field of science and technology besides inculcating scientific temper amongst them.

He said that this unique initiative would also offer a healthy platform to the rural innovators to interact with the nationally and internationally renowned scientists, which would be a great incentive and encouragement to the people especially the youngsters involved in such scientific pursuits even from rural sector.

Badal further said that on its part, the state government has taken path-breaking initiatives for development of Science and Technology in Punjab.

The Chief Minister said that due to the concerted efforts of the state government Pushpa Gujral Science City had been set up in Kapurthala with an investment of Rs 100 crores and around 4 lakh visitors visit it every year. Likewise, he said that to strengthen Science and Technology infrastructure in Punjab, a state-of-the-art Agri-Food Biotechnology Cluster was being developed at Knowledge City in Sector 81, Mohali spread over 125 acres of land at a cost of nearly Rs 400 crore

Badal said that IndiaÔÇÖs first Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) was also being developed at Knowledge City in Mohali at a cost of Rs 142 crore over an area of 35 acre land.

Laying thrust on bridging the education gap between the students of rural and urban areas, the Chief Minister said that the students of the rural areas were having a huge potential, which could be aptly utilised for the development of the country by providing the required infrastructure to them.

He said that keeping this in vew, the state government has already started Dr Hargobind Khurana Scholarship Scheme for the poor and bright students of the state, who secure more than 80 per cent marks in the government schools. Under this scheme, a scholarship of Rs 30,000 per annum would be given to the beneficiary students for pursuing education.

The Chief Minister said that six ÔÇÿspecial schoolsÔÇÖ were being opened across the state to impart quality education to the meritorious students.

He said that the bright students would be provided free boarding and lodging facilities in these schools so that they could excel in their life.

Badal further said that these schemes would play a vanguard role in enabling the poor students to compete with their convent educated peers.

Later, the Chief Minister also visited the rural science exhibition and had detailed interactions with the school students regarding their projects.

ISCA Central President and Vice Chancellor BBA Central University, Lucknow Prof RC Sobti, Convener Chandigarh Chapter of ISCA Dr Vijay Laxmi Sharma, Convener Patiala Chapter of ISCA Dr Tarlok Singh, Convener Delhi Chapter of ISCA VM Trehan and Dashmesh GirlsÔÇÖ College of Education Principal Dr SS Sangha were also present on the occasion.

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