Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda tried to strike a chord with voters by speaking in Punjabi in his address during a rally addressed by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at Kalanwali, a constituency having significant presence of Punjabis and Sikhs. He underlined that his government had formed the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC).
“Guru ghar di saambhsambhaal karna Sikhan da janam-sidh adhikar hai, te asi eh adhikar Haryane de Sikhan nu dwaya hai (To look after their gurdwaras is a birthright of Sikhs, and we have provided this right to the Sikhs of Haryana),” said Hooda. He said that though Akalis and INLD are claiming that they would dissolve the HSGMC if they form the government, “Duniya di koi taakat is nu badal ni sakdi (No power can overturn the decision to form HSGMC).” Hooda started his speech in Hindi but as soon as he started touching the issue of HSGMC, he opted for Punjabi.
Kalanwali is being contested by INLD’s partner SAD, which controls the Amritsar-based SGPC and has been opposing a separate gurdwara panel. Almost all speakers except Rahul mentioned the formation of HSGMC.
Rahul hits out at Centre
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi criticised the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for allegedly trying to dilute the provisions of pro-people policies of the previous Congressled United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre.
Raising questions over the foreign policy of the Narendra Modi re gime, he reminded the people of promises made during the Lok Sabha elections by Modi: “He had made tall claims of replying to Pakistan and China; but what’s happening now? When Chinese prime minister Xi Jinping was in India and our PM enjoyed a see-saw with him, Chinese army soldiers had intruded into Indian territory.”
He reiterated his argument on Pakistan as well: “There has been continuous shelling by Pakistan. The Prime Minister had claimed that everything will be fine soon, but after lull of one night Pakistan again started shelling.”
He said, “Modi had also promised to bring back black money stashed in foreign banks within 100 days. Has black money been brought back? It is easy to say but tough to deliver.”
To recognise Haryana’s contribution in sports, he said that “a state with 2% of country’s population is winning 30-35% medals for the country and is excelling in sports like wrestling and boxing”.
Like he did at his rallies earlier, he said for Haryana there was a need to extend the popular slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” to include the rich wrestling tradition: “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Pehelwan”.
Addressing the media earlier, Chautala alleged that the haste in sending him to prison was the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ploy and a result of the party’s insecurity about the coming assembly elections in Haryana.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party was scared that people will vote in our favour if I campaign in the state.
This is why they wanted me back in jail before the elections. However, this has irritated the people even more,” said Chautala.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court had on January 22, 2013 convicted and sentenced Om Prakash Chautala, his son Ajay and eight others to 10-year jail term each for illegally recruiting 3,206 junior teachers in 2000.
Chautala’s appeal against the verdict is pending in the high court.