Despite trust vote stand, Badal still respects PM

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Chandigarh, Jul 30 (UNI) Though the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) voted against the UPA-government during the trust vote in Parliament, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal continues to have the highest regard for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I have great respect for the Prime Minister", the Chief Minister said when questioned about his relations with the PM after the trust vote during which seven of the eight SAD MPs voted against the government.

"However the PM is in the wrong party, the Congress which has always opposed the Akalis", he said while addressing a media conference here today.

When asked to comment on statements from certain quarters that the Akalis were anti-Sikh as they had opposed a Sikh PM in Parliament, Mr Badal described these as irresponsible utterances.

" Political differences are fine but the Congress virtually treated Akalis as their enemies", he said while going back into the past.

Regarding the attitude of the central ministers towards Punjab after the trust vote, Mr Badal said that they are still very helpful. In this context he refered to his meetings with certain central ministers after the trust vote.

The Chief Minister regretted that the Union Government had not cleared the state governments proposal for naming the Chandigarh/Mohali international airport after Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

The Chief Minister denied the allegations levelled by expelled SAD MP Sukhdev Singh Libra that there were threats to his life and he should be given CRPF security. Mr Libra was expelled from the party after be abstained from voting during the trust vote in Parliament.

UNI HS MMS1645

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