On Thursday when Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal set out on a journey to the rural areas of the state. His first stopover was at the Alamwala village in Muktsar constituency. Badal chose the government senior secondary school in the village to hold a public meeting.
People from eight villages under the Lambi and Malaut assembly constituencies visited the school at Alamwala to meet Badal. However, not everyone was pleased with the CM’s choice of venue.
The reason was clear.
Badal’s visit not only disrupted classes and threw the school schedule into disarray, it also ‘ defiled’ the hallowed portals of the educational institution.
To make the CM’s visit comfortable, one of the classrooms was turned into an air- conditioned bedroom while another was converted into a makeshift toilet.
The students, moreover, were made to serve snacks and tea to the CM’s entourage. The villagers, who saw this happening, were outraged at the blatant transgression.
“ An educational institution should be treated with respect. A classroom was turned into a bedroom for Badal. Another room — meant for the students of sixth standard — was converted into a makeshift toilet,” Nathu Ram, a resident of Malaut, said.
Officials at public relations department confirmed that the chief minister went to the senior secondary school at Alamwala. However, they refused to comment on the arrangements made for Badal.
The irony of the visit was further highlighted by the fact that though Badal heard grievances of the villagers at the school during the day, no one bothered to point out to the CM that the school didn’t have enough teachers for subjects such as English, history and physical education.
School principal Sarabjit Kumar said he was not aware of the students being asked to serve the guests.
“ Probably, the students chose to do so or were deployed by the village sarpanch. They had directions to attend classes,” Sarabjit said.
In the evening, Badal decided to spend the night at a school at Chapianwali village — about 25 km from his home at Lambi.
Here too, a classroom was converted into a makeshift bedroom. Balwant Singh, a villager from Gidderbaha, said Badal had been resorting to political gimmick. “ His home was only a few kilometers away from Chapianwali.
He could have saved public money by staying there,” he said.
On Friday, the chief minister headed to Giddarbaha – the constituency earlier represented by his nephew and sacked finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal.
It was here that the authorities went completely out of their way to cater to the CM’s comforts. At the Adarsh School in Kot Bhai village, where Badal decided to put up, authorities removed computers from a lab and installed a water closet, a wash basin and an exhaust fan and put curtains on the window. Party sources, meanwhile, said the CM’s visit was aimed at drawing the electorate back to the SAD fold.
SAD official spokesperson Dr D. S. Cheema said the visit should not be projected in negative way. On his part, Badal dismissed any allegations of misusing the government machinery “ I want to serve the people. It does not matter where I stay. I want to live among the masses,” he told reporters.
PUNJAB CM’S CLOUDED VISIT
Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday set out on a journey to visit the villages under the Malwa region of the state
At the Alamwala village, where Badal first stopped, the authorities turned one of the classrooms of a school into an air- conditioned bedroom while another was converted into a toilet. The school children, moreover, were made to serve snacks to the CM’s ‘ guests’
At another school in Kot Bhai village, a computer lab was dismantled and amenities for the CM were installed