Senior Supreme Court lawyer HS Phoolka will reach the Akal Takht, Sikhism’s highest temporal seat, on Sunday to apologise on behalf of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the manifesto gaffe and settle a controversy before it hurts his side in the Punjab elections.
He will first do ‘sewa’ (volunteer service) at the ‘langar ghar’ (community kitchen). The senior party leader has put up a video on his Facebook page, saying “the mistake was unintentional and I will appeal the party volunteers to join me in tendering apology”. “Since July 3 when the manifesto came out in Amritsar, callers are angry about the AAP election symbol of broom over the cover picture of the Golden Temple (holiest of Sikh shrines). It was a mistake certainly, but unintentional,” he said.
Reacting to the Panthic groups’ seeking an apology from AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal, Phoolka said: “Kejriwal didn’t prepare the manifesto. It was our Punjab team.” He said he was unaware if AAP spokesman Ashish Khetan, who is charged with hurting Sikh sentiments by comparing the manifesto to Guru Granth Sahib, will come to the shrine to offer apology.
Phoolka said he knew the apology was unlikely to satisfy the AAP’s rivals and the Panthic bodies unless it came from Kejriwal. The rivals are on the offensive since July 3, when the AAP released its youth manifesto in Amritsar and Khetan said on the occasion that the document was the party’s Gita, Bible, and Guru Granth Sahib. He was booked on a complaint from All India Sikh Student Federation (AISSF) president Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad.