Chandigarh, Feb 16 (PTI) The Punjab Congress today criticised Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal after he called for a ‘gherao’ of the state Assembly on the opening day of the budget session next month, terming it “undemocratic and shameful”.

State Congress president Sunil Jakhar and cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said in a statement that Badal’s call for protest at the Assembly was “proof of the Akali leadership’s total disregard for parliamentary democracy.” They also cited the opposition party’s “unconstitutional” behaviour in the House during previous sessions.

The SAD yesterday said it will ‘gherao’ the Assembly on the opening day of the budget session to protest the Congress government’s “betrayal” of the people of Punjab and the “non-fulfilments” of its poll promises.

“Instead of playing the role of a constructive opposition, the Akalis seemed hell-bent on destroying the basic tenets of this democratic institution with their undignified acts,” Jakhar said, accusing Sukhbir of “trying persistently to cheat Punjab’s citizens with brazen falsehoods”.

Sidhu, meanwhile, dared Sukhbir to engage in a meaningful debate on issues in the Assembly, instead of trying to create law and order problems.

“If he wanted to question the government on any of its policies or acts, let him do so in the House,” Sidhu said, adding that the SAD president is evidently trying to wriggle out of any such discussion for “fear of exposure of his fabrications”.

He described Badal as a “joker”, who could resort to any level to entertain people.

“Having suffered under the Akali misrule for 10 years, the people had thrown the Akalis out with a vengeance and were in no mood to welcome them back into the state’s political landscape,” said Sidhu, who was critical of the Akalis on various issues even when he was a leader of their ally – the BJP.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.