Chandigarh, February 22: Terming his latest statement on the sacrilege cases as an obvious panic reaction to public exposure, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday warned Parkash Singh Badal against persistently indulging in theatrics, adding that these would not help him regain the lost political ground for the Akalis.

Reacting strongly to Badal’s dramatic challenge to ‘put him in jail’ if the Chief Minister dared, Captain Amarinder Singh ridiculed it as another piece of drama from Badal Senior, who was finding himself cornered on the issue of the sacrilege cases, in the backdrop of the findings of the Ranjit Singh Commission.

“Why is he so rattled if he has nothing to hide,” said Captain Amarinder Singh, pointing out that the former chief minister was in the habit of indulging in theatrics, especially when faced with an uncomfortable situation. Pointing out that he had never mentioned Badal or anyone else, for that matter, in connection with the Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura firing incidents and desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, the Chief Minister wondered if Badal’s reaction was a case of guilt conscience rising to the fore.

Rejecting the Akali patron’s allegation of a political witch-hunt by his government, Captain Amarinder Singh said such shameful and petty tactics were the domain of the Akalis, and the Congress leadership had never believed in indulging in such acts. He reiterated his sustained stand that he would not engage in political vendetta, and would allow the law to take its own course.

The SIT probing the firing incidents had been set up on a decision to this effect in the Vidhan Sabha, the Chief Minister observed, adding that it was a completely independent entity, with no interference whatsoever from the government. Who to call for questioning or whom to arrest was the prerogative of the SIT, which did not function as a puppet to the government, unlike the way systems worked under the Badal regime, Captain Amarinder Singh lashed out.

All that his government had clarified, time and again, was that anyone found guilty of killing innocent people in these firings would not be spared, whatever his position or political standing, said the Chief Minister. If Badal had interpreted that as a threat to him, then it could only mean that he was afraid of what might come out of the SIT investigations, he added.

It was time the Akalis stopped behaving like small-time goons, creating a ruckus over non-issues and resorting to drama to stay in public limelight, and started operating like a responsible opposition, said the Chief Minister. “Is that so difficult to do, Mr. Badal,” he quipped, adding that the people of Punjab were no fools and could see through the antics of the Akalis, led by Parkash Singh Badal, who were only showing their desperation in the face of an imminent Lok Sabha defeat with such capers.