The central Congress leadership has directed all party leaders in Punjab to support Partap Singh Bajwa.
All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and in charge of Punjab affairs Shakeel Ahmed on Saturday called upon all Congressmen, especially the senior party leaders of Punjab, to work together and aggressively under the leadership of the state party president to realise the dreams of late Beant Singh. On the 18th death anniversary of the former chief minister, Ahmed was speaking here in the presence of union minister of rural development Jairam Ramesh, Congress secretary Harish Chaudhary, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Bajwa.
He assured Bajwa and state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar that the Congress high command would back them up fully at all levels. Paying tributes to Beant Singh on a day that the party had dedicated to national integration, Ahmed said he was upset to know that the Punjab government had not organised any official function to observe the day on which the former CM had sacrificed his life for the state's unity and integration.
On August 31, 1995, Beant Singh was assassinated in Chandigarh along with 18 others. Ahmed said his sacrifice had made every Congress leader proud of his legacy and party president Sonia Gandhi had asked central party leaders personally to attend the function. "The party was indebted to the family of Beant Singh," said Jairam Ramesh, assuring Bajwa that the union government would support the state Congress fully.
Ramesh said he had asked chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in a letter to take the consent of the MP and legislator of the constituency concerned before sending any list of roads to be constructed under Pardhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna. He told Bajwa to face the challenges from within and outside the party and go ahead with his ideas.
Hooda remembered the commitment of Beant Singh to the people of the state. "Punjab flourished under his leadership and came out of the dark days of terrorism," he said, adding: "Punjab is the elder brother of Haryana but in the past few years has been surpassed in development." He said he would give ownership rights to farmers who had received Shamlaat land in united Punjab from former CM Partap Singh Kairon.
Hooda accused the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership of failing to support the Sikh farmers displaced from Gujarat. Congress secretary Harish Chaudhary said the people in Punjab were unhappy with the present state government and the Congress was a better alternative. "If there is peace in Punjab, its credit goes to the Congress," he said, complimenting Bajwa for commendable work.
Former Congress Working Committee (CWC) member Jagmeet Singh Brar, former state Congress president Shamsher Singh Dullo, parliamentarians Mohinder Singh Kay Pee and Ravneet Singh Bittu, and legislators Gurkirat Singh Kotli and Kuljit Singh Nagra also addressed the gathering.
In the morning, Bajwa, union minister of state for health Santosh Chaudhary and the family of Beant Singh had laid wreaths on the late CM's memorial in Sector 42 here.