Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh have come in for criticism for having participated in the inaugural function of the Kabaddi tournament within hours of the cremation of I.K. Gujral, the former Prime Minister, for whom the State is observing a weeklong mourning.
In a strongly-worded statement, State Congress unit president Amarinder Singh described the CM’s participation in the event as an act of “utter shamelessness” after the Chief Minister had himself announced State mourning. “Was Mr. Badal mourning or celebrating the death of the former Prime Minister who happened to be the first Punjabi Prime Minister of the country and a great friend of Punjab?” Captain Singh said.
The third edition of the tournament of Punjab’s traditional game was launched amid major festivities at Bathinda on Saturday. The release put out by the State government referred to the event as its biggest ever sports extravaganza in the “gala” but “somber” opening of the event, where 23 teams including 7 women contingents are participating.
Actors Akshay Kumar, Asin and German model Claudia Ciesla danced to popular numbers during the function, where the Chief Minister, who had a few hours ago participated in Mr. Gujral’s cremation, was presiding.
Mr. Badal had cancelled all engagements during the day, including the inauguration of the AgroTech — a farm technology fair organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Chandigarh. The Chief Minister said he had cancelled all events during the mourning period but the world cup inaugural function, being an “international event”, could not be cancelled and rescheduled.
Two minutes of silence was observed in the memory of Mr. Gujral before the packed stadium resonated with the “24 Zorbing Balls show in which dancers in 8 transparent zorbing balls created a choreographed spectacle as they moved in various patterns and forms beautifully assisted by colourful LED lights”, according to the release. It also pointed out that the show’s duration was reduced by two hours, even as hoisting of flags of participating countries and fireworks were avoided as a mark of respect to Mr. Gujral. Mr. Badal went on to dedicate the event to Mr. Gujral.
Captain Amarinder Singh said that on the one hand the Chief Minister was “wailing and whining over the loss of the great son of the soil”, while on the other, he was gleefully enjoying the dance show and fireworks to mark the inauguration of the Kabaddi tournament that his son has been touting as the world cup. Capt. Singh Mr. Badal took a straight flight from the cremation of Mr. Gujaral to the celebrations of his son, calling it “unfortunate and unbecoming” of a Chief Minister. The Congress would complain to the Punjab Governor about such an impropriety on part of the Punjab government.
Meanwhile, senior journalist, Satinder Bains, who is the Editor of a News portal, Punjab News Express, poured his criticism through satire, “Sorry Mr. Inder Kumar Gujralji, you died on [the] wrong day. We have announced a seven-day mourning for you but we are sorry we can’t stop celebrating World Cup Kabaddi. Before your death, we had signed Miss Pooja and Akshey [sic] and paid them about Rs two crore. Sorry Gujral ji you died on wrong day.”