Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday targeted the Akali candidate for the Dhuri byelection, Gobind Singh Longowal, claiming that the latter had been ungrateful to Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.
Sant Longowal, then Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, had in 1985 signed the Punjab accord, an agreement for peace in the state, with then Rajiv Gandhi government. Amarinder had played a key role in the accord. Later that year, some radicals had shot dead Sant Longowal.
Amarinder alleged: “Gobind Longowal was ehsan-faramosh (ungrateful). Santji (Sant Longowal) adopted him and brought him up. However, when he was shot dead, Gobind didn’t even give a statement to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against his killers. Is he worthy of Sant Longowal’s legacy?”
“Don’t expect anything from a man (Gobind) who was not even loyal to his master,” the former CM said, in an attempt to cut into the SAD’s Panthic vote bank in Dhuri villages.
Later, taking to mediapersons, Amarinder said it was Surjit Singh Barnala who had in 1985 given the ticket to Gobind. “A screening committee wanted to give the ticket to someone else, but Barnala decided to allot it to Gobind as he had been adopted by Sant Longowal,” he said.
“Those were the days of terrorism, and to save himself, Gobind didn’t speak against the persons who had killed his political master,” the Captain added.
“Barnala made him an MLA and I, as agriculture minister, made him the Markfed chairman in 1985. But later he shifted loyalties to the Badals and joined them to become a minister in 1997,” Amarinder said.
The Congress leader requested voters to compare between the Barnala family’s standing and honesty, and Gobind’s ungratefulness to his master.
FOUR FILE PAPERS
Four candidates filed nomination papers on Monday for the Dhuri byelection — Simarpratap and three Independents, Ranjit Bhasin, Rattan Lal and Gurpreet Singh. Seven candidates have filed nominations so far. Akali candidate Gobind Singh Longowal is likely to do it on the last date, March 24. Scrutiny of papers will be done on March 25.