Punjab ministers’ ‘light-hearted’ comments about procuring opioids good for neither optics nor the state’s fight against drugs
Punjab politicians wanted the state’s name taken out of Udta Punjab—the film was set against the addiction problem in the state, and the Punjab worthies thought the title amounted to slandering the state. Yet, while the Punjab government has set up a task force to tackle the addiction problem in the state—and chief minister Amarinder Singh is out convincing investors that his government is taking steps to curb the drug menace—two ministers were caught in a hot-mic moment, discussing the procurement of kali dawai (opioids). That wasn’t all, the state government took action against the PR department officials who had inadvertently released the clip. Talk about shooting the messenger. The ministers’ callous discussion and the move against the PR officials has invited censure from not just opposition politicians, but also from certain quarters of the ruling party in the state itself.
Although drug busts have increased under the present government, Punjab politicians seem to be ostrich-like when it comes to the issue. Earlier this year, state’s tourism minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, had blamed the drug problem on the music and film industry. According to BBC, a government study highlights that more than 860,000 young men in the state, between the ages of 15-35, had taken some form of drugs. The state cannot reform unless the ruling class does not take it seriously. Talking about putting an end to drug menace, instead of discussing how drugs can be procured, can be a good start.