Captain Amarinder Singh, Congress candidate for this Lok Sabha seat, has termed chief minister Parkash Singh Badal a coward for not clarifying his role in "supporting" Operation Bluestar that was launched in June 1984 to flush out armed terrorists from the Golden Temple here.
Addressing his first press conference of the election campaign in the holy city on Saturday after the party pitted him against Arun Jaitley of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Amarinder said he had sought answers from Badal on his numerous meetings with central ministers, including the one with the-then union home minister, PV Narasimha Rao, just before the army operation of 1984.
"Like a coward, he has avoided giving me an answer and continued to blame the Congress for the army operation, without clarifying own role in sending the army to the Golden Temple to flush our terrorists," he said.
"I accept that the Congress ordered Operation Bluestar. If the BJP has admitted to own role in supporting the armed conflict, why can't Badal," stated the former CM, while holding up the booklet, "White Paper on the Punjab Agitation", and reading extracts about the meetings between Akali leaders and the union government of that time led by prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Amarinder sought a fact-finding mission to bring out everyone's role in Operation Bluestar. "Badal won't speak on this subject, as he knows that everything is documented and he'll be exposed if the truth comes out," he added. On the claims of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) general secretary Harcharan Singh Bains that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had never apologised for the army operation, Amarinder sought to clarify that she had indeed, during her visit to the Golden Temple in 1998 and in 2003 again, when he was chief minister.
"On the contrary, the BJP has not apologised for its role in supporting the operation and neither has Badal, for his and his party's role in the bloodshed that took place in Punjab," said Amarinder. He was reacting to Jaitley's giving main credit to Badal for the era of peace in Punjab.
Hits back at Jaitley
On Jaitley's posting on Facebook that Amarinder had "foot and mouth (sic)" problem, the former CM sought to know whether the BJP candidate was aware about the disease. "I cannot help him; froth keeps coming out of his mouth," he added.
On Badal's claims
Dismissing the claims of chief minister Badal that the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre had meted out step-motherly treatment to non-Congress-ruled states such as Punjab, his predecessor said it was the state government that had failed to forward adequate number of development-project cases to the Centre for financial assistance. "It forwarded just four projects, to the tune of `453 crore, which the Centre cleared but the state government did not have the matching grant for," he said.