Badal takes Akali law-maker to BJP minister to apologise


Chandigarh : An embarrassing tiff between a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister and an Akali Dal legislator Tuesday saw more drama when Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal took the legislator to the minister’s home to tender an “unconditional apology”.

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Badal took Sarabjit Singh Makkar to Industries and Local Government Minister Manoranjan Kalia’s official residence here.

Though Badal refused to say anything after the meeting, Kalia said Makkar came with the chief minister to tender an “unconditional apology”.

However, Kalia remained evasive when asked if he had forgiven the legislator who had used abusive language against him at his residence last week, and also if the ties between the Akali Dal and the BJP had hit a new low.

The Akali Dal and the BJP are running an alliance government in Punjab since March 2007. The Akalis, who do not have a simple majority in the 117-member state assembly, are dependent on the support of 19 BJP legislators to remain in power.

Kalia told IANS: “Now what can I do if someone comes at your home and stands beside you with folded hands? Makkar has asked for unconditional apology from me.”

“Parkash Singh Badal is well aware of that wrong-doing. That is why he himself came to my home,” added Kalia.

On the issue of differences between the alliance partners, Kalia said: “Differences are there but at this time I cannot comment on this issue.”

Makkar, who represents Adampur assembly segment near Jalandhar, told reporters after the meeting: “There are no ill feelings between me and Kalia and we have cleared everything in today’s meeting. He is just like my elder brother and in future also I would continue to visit his home frequently.”

Makkar had last Wednesday accused the minister of not clearing files pertaining to buildings owned by his family members.

The dispute was over clearance of certain concessions to buildings in Jalandhar city being built by Makkar’s relatives. Both Kalia and Makkar belong to Jalandhar, 150 km from here.

Kalia had to clear the files related to controversial concessions to buildings of Makkar’s relatives.

Makkar had initially tried to blame Kalia for sitting on the files but after Badal took a stand against him (Makkar) and summoned him from Srinagar to apologise to the minister, he has retracted his allegations against Kalia.

“Now we should end this matter here only as the media has already blown this issue out of proportion,” Makkar said.

His outburst against the minister last week was followed by a murderous attack by youth Akali Dal activists and councilors on a revenue official, G.S. Benipal, in Ludhiana city after he refused to toe Makkar’s line.

Benipal, who was assaulted and stripped by the Akali activists, is known for exposing corrupt deals in the revenue department where he works as a tehsildar. Benipal is a former army officer.

Badal had condemned the assault on Benipal, saying that such acts would not be tolerated by the government.