SAD, BJP differ over Bhullar | delhi | Hindustan Times
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SAD, BJP differ over Bhullar

The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — allies in the Punjab government — find themselves on different pages over the rejection of the mercy petition of Khalistan Liberation Force militant Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. The Congress too is in a bind on the sensitive issue.

delhi Updated: May 31, 2011 01:09 IST

The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — allies in the Punjab government — find themselves on different pages over the rejection of the mercy petition of Khalistan Liberation Force militant Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar. The Congress too is in a bind on the sensitive issue.

A day after the SAD requested the PM to commute Bhullar’s death sentence on grounds of “humanitarianism” and “national interest”, the BJP on Monday said it considered Bhullar an “anti-national”.

“The BJP’s position on terror is clear. We don’t want any terrorist to be considered anything less than an anti-national,” said national spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.
SAD’s SS Dhindsa said: “They should not have said like this; they should have talked to us if they had a different stand. But if they have an independent position, what can we say?”

On Bhullar, SAD and BJP have ideologically different constituencies. While the SAD thinks Bhullar’s issue relates to Sikh sensibilities, the BJP’s core constituency — the urban Hindu — remembers the period of the Khalistan movement and Sikh militancy with unease and fear.

Congress managers feel it may become a major issue in next year’s assembly elections and the Akalis could exploit it to their advantage. The central leadership, however, is yet to formulate a stand on the issue.

A section in the state Congress links the issue with the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. “Some people have upped the ante over Bhullar’s hanging but what about those accused in the ’84 riots?” asked one leader.