Capt. Amarinder Singh, the Punjab Chief Minister on Thursday volunteered to take a dope test to silence critics of his government’s decision to test all state government employees for substance abuse. Employees and opposition parties had responded sharply to the move, wondering why the chief minister had spared legislators from the medical test.
“Ready to take a dope test and stand for what I believe is right!” Capt. Amarinder Singh responded on Twitter.
For now, Capt. Amarinder Singh clarified, he did not intend to force his cabinet colleagues or legislators to undergo the test.
The chief minister said he was leaving it to the conscience of his colleagues to make their own judgment but did not think that anyone should have a problem.
Capt. Amarinder Singh, who had vowed to crack down on the state’s drugs mafia in the run-up to last year’s assembly elections, has been facing criticism for not doing enough.
Over the last week, his government has decided to seek a change in the law to make drug peddling punishable with death penalty and introduce the new dope test to signal his administration’s commitment to fight the menace of substance abuse.
The chief minister decided to introduce drugs screening for all recruits into the government and the police. Existing employees would also have to face the test before every promotion. The dope test would also be made part of the annual medical check-up.
It is not clear if employees who test positive would face disciplinary action or be put through de-addiction course.
Sukhchain Singh Khaira, the president of the Punjab government employees organisation, was one of the first to demand that politicians should not be spared either.
“We have no objection to the dope test. But why only government employees are being targeted? We are not drug addicts,” Mr Khaira had said, adding that ministers and lawmakers who draw salary from the treasury should also have to undergo the test.
Congress leader Manish Tewari appeared to agree, not only because it would set an example but because it would strengthen the government’s case if someone were to challenge it in court.
Aam Aadmi Party’s Aman Arora, who had dared the chief minister and his team to face the test, has also faced the dope test on his own.
“I expected that being first citizen of the state, he should have set example by coming forward first for the dope test. Then, his ministers and MLAs would have followed,” Mr Arora said.