Bathinda, Dec 8 (UNI) Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani, while congratulating Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for 'ably' leading the SAD-BJP government in Punjab to put the state back on the road to progress, today stressed that the BJP would keep playing a vital role in forging alliance with the like-minded regional parties, to bring an end to the Congress rule.
Addressing a massive public rally here at local sports stadium on the occasion of 'Punjab Gaurav Divas' to celebrate the 81st birthday of Mr Badal, the former Deputy Prime Minister, hailed him as probably one of the seniormost chief ministers in the country, who had risen to the post of chief minister not once but four times by the dint of his hard work, sincerity and commitment''.
Mr Advani said the Chief Minister was ''a real leader of the masses'' stressing that he was not a leader of Punjab only but of a national stature.
BJP General Secretary and party's in charge of Punjab political affairs Balbir Punj described Mr Badal as a ''saint statesman'' and said, ''He is a true visionary who has a passion for the development of Punjab and the prosperity of its people''.
National General Secretary BJP Kiran Ghai read out the message of National President BJP Raj Nath Singh on the occasion.
In his address former Chief Minister Haryana Om Parkash Chautala said Mr Badal was a champion of the farmers.
''He, like my father former Deputy Prime Minister Ch Devi Lal, has always propagated the cause of farmers and strived hard to safeguard their basic rights and interests,'' the Indian National Lok Dal chief said.
Expressing gratitude for the heaps of praises in his favour by the BJP party and other leaders, Mr Badal said he had strong age-old ties with the BJP and this relationship was ever-lasting.
Mr Badal also thanked the SAD workers and said his success during the 50 years of his political career was exclusively due to the contribution of the grassroots party activists and the whole-hearted cooperation and support of his party colleagues.
The Punjab Chief Minister today also made a firm resolve to maintain law and order in the state and said nobody would be allowed to vitiate the congenial atmosphere of peace and communal harmony at the behest of any political party or organisation.
Outlining the major achievements of the SAD-BJP government during its nine month tenure Mr Badal said international airport at Mohali, revival of oil refinery at Bathinda, four-laning and six-laning of major national highways and construction of new express highways and the upgradation of infrastructure in the five corporation cities viz. Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Bathinda and Patiala were amongst few to mention.
On the occasion, the Chief Minister honoured the eminent sports persons and super star voice of India Mr Ishmeet Singh by presenting a cheque of Rs five lakh.
Earlier, Mr Badal laid the foundation stone of the local Shiromani Akali Dal office.
Prominent amongst others who spoke on the occasion included Cooperation Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, local Government Minister Manoranjan Kalia, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Rural Development Minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, President State Unit BJP Prof Rajinder Bhandari and President SGPC Avtar Singh Makkar.