Modi, Rahul trade barbs on drug abuse in Pun­jab

Cong vice-pres­i­dent says Cap­tain Amarinder is party’s CM can­di­date

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - Aseem Bassi and Ravin­der Va­sudeva

MA­JITHA/JA­LAND­HAR: Congress vice pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi traded barbs on Fri­day over drug abuse in Pun­jab, set­ting the tone for a po­ten­tially fiery cam­paign over the di­vi­sive is­sue ahead of next month’s as­sem­bly polls in the state. Gandhi also named state Congress pres­i­dent Cap­tain AmarinderSing­has­thechief min­is­te­rial can­di­date, end­ing months of spec­u­la­tionon­whow­ill­leadthe party’s bat­tle against the rul­ing SAD-BJP and the AAP.

Al­l117­con­stituen­ciesinPun­jab will vote on Fe­bru­ary 4 and the re­sults will be an­nounced on March 11. Gandhi has re­peat­edly tar­geted the rul­ing Badal fam­ily for fail­ing to ad­dress the prob­lem of drug abuse in the state where an es­ti­mated 70% of the youth are said to be ad­dicted to what is lo­cally known as ‘chitta’. Chief min­is­ter Parkash Singh Badal, how­ever, claims that the prob­lem was­be­ing­blownoutof pro­por­tion.

With­out nam­ing any­body, Gandhi said if voted to power, the par­ty­willsend­to­jailallthose­who have looted the state and failed to ad­dress the drugs prob­lem. “The Congress will fight drugs and we will­winit,”Gand­hi­sai­dattheSADBJP strong­hold Ma­jitha, adding the party will also bring in such a strin­gent law that ped­dlers would shiver even think­ing about drugs.

Shortly af­ter Gandhi’s rally, Modi ad­dressed a pub­lic meet­ing in Ja­land­har and ac­cused the Congress of bad mouthing Pun­jab’syouthover­the­drugis­sue.

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