Badals on the offensive, Cong ammunition unused

The opposition Congress came prepared with enough ammunition to corner the SAD-BJP government. But the managers of the ruling alliance seem to have outwitted the Opposition by scuttling their debate through an aggressive floor strategy.

With effectively just three days of House session, the Congress did some careful rationing of issues that could embarrass the ruling combine. Starting from recent killing of an ASI in Amritsar, alleged involvement of an Akali Sarpanch in a youth's murder to abduction of a minor in Faridkot, it had prepared an entire dossier on law and order problems in the last one year of Akali-BJP being at the helm. The charge was to be led by both Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh and leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar. The party's floor strategy was not to walkout but debate issues and force the government on the defensive.

But all the homework and meticulous planning of the opposition went unused on Tuesday as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal chose to speak on a topic, which Jakhar had reserved for debate on a different day. So good was the floor management of the government that even the microphone went silent as Jakhar tried to rise above the din to make his point. As Congress let go of one crucial day to debate issues and put the government on the mat, it was a plan that went off well for the ruling party.

"I told you the Congress will run away from debate on the law and order issue," Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal was seen telling reporters. CM Badal, who first lost his cool over not being allowed by the Opposition to read his "explanation" to a blame that he said was like a blot on his image, was seen imploring Amarinder with jest to convince his MLAs to let him speak first. Visibly upset at the turn of events, Jakhar said the CM either takes potshots at them or browbeats parliamentary democracy to avoid a debate.

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