Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today urged Punjabis to rise above petty interests and counter the forces indulging in defaming and denigrating the image of the state and its people by dubbing Punjab as 'bankrupt' and Punjabis as 'drug addicts'.
At a 90-minute presentation at a programme organised at a local hotel, Badal gave details of progress and development initiated by his government in Punjab and asked opinion makers in the national capital to see and unmask the "conspiracy of vested interests who want to make political capital by slandering the state only to score brownie points".
Appealing to the people to be proud of being Punjabis and Sikhs, he claimed it was Shiromani Akali Dal that struggled for the rights and interests of Punjabis and Sikhs.
Sikhs, he said, were appreciated world over for their laborious nature and were now inducted even as ministers in the Canadian government.
On the smear campaign by the opponents on social media as well as national channels, the SAD chief said these elements were acting at the "behest of forces inimical to Punjab."
He said it was his duty to present the right picture of Punjab as a lot of MNCs want to invest in the state.
"I then realized that repeated wrong perceptions created by some ill informed political leaders had been twisted by the media and Punjab was being projected as a State facing a serious crisis of drug addiction," he said.
Badal said "we should not let anyone to defame Punjab and Punjabis as in reality we were putting new milestones in the field of prosperity, growth, development and progress."
The SAD leader said "No drug is produced in Punjab. In fact, synthetic drugs and narcotics are produced in Pakistan and Afghanistan and are being transited through Punjab", as he hit out at Congress for "launching a nefarious campaign to malign Punjab and brand its entire youth as drug addicts."
"This is being done even though it was the laxity during the 10-years old Congress led UPA rule that narco-terrorism had reared its ugly head in the country," he said, adding that porous and riverine tracts alongside the Pak border and deficient manpower were impacting Punjab and the nation.
"What we have promised has fulfilled. I announced to make Punjab a power surplus state which had been accomplished. Now Punjab will be the first state having 4/6 lane highways connecting all the major towns," he said, adding RBI has also declared Punjab as third best state for investment.
He said compared to Congress rule from 2002 to 2007, gross VAT collection and excise collection was encouraging and categorically said Punjab was not debt-ridden state and it has reduced 1.8 per cent in debt growth. He said that Punjab had also improved in Debt GSDP ratio from 47.1 percent in 2006-07 to 32 percent in 2013-14.