At the Maghi Mela rally of the SAD here on Wednesday, party president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal sought to mix some religious rhetoric with a dose of development agenda.
Apart from accusing the Congress of being anti-Sikh and anti-Punjabi, Sukhbir explained his theory of how they were being “defamed” over drug issue, and declared, “No party can kill the Akali Dal. But the Akali Dal, if it wants, can finish all parties.”
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was ballistic as well, claiming that “Congressmen throw tails of slaughtered cows in temples and cigarettes in gurdwaras to create tensions between Sikhs and Hindus”. He said, “Maintaining peace in Punjab is the biggest achievement of my tenure.”
Sukhbir exhorted party leaders to restart a brainchild of his mother, the late Surinder Kaur Badal, to prepare langar (community meals) from each assembly segment to deliver to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Going further on the mobilisation strategy, he also stressed on organising kirtan darbars (religious congregations) “to stop degradation of society”. Announcing 2015 as the year of campaign against social evils, he added.
“Within a few months, we are going to make every district computerised to make the dream of e-government a reality. By July-August you will have Seva Kendra (service centres) in the village.”
CM Badal listed all “Panthic tragedies” from 1947 to 1984 and beyond. He underlined that he had built several memorials in the past seven years, and promised more. He also spoke against expensive weddings “as these are behind social evils, including dowry deaths”. He repeated Sukhbir’s plan to start sending langar to the Golden Temple and holding religious congregations.
Missing flag and Jyani’s paeans: BJP leader and Punjab health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani delivered his speech in what was seen as “the Akali style”, heaping praises on CM Parkash Singh Badal for his fight against drugs. While the BJP has in the past been trying to shift the blame, he took the SAD line that there was a conspiracy to defame Punjab on the drug issue. However, unlike previous years, there was no BJP flag at the rally.
Absentees include Majithia: Prominent SAD leaders, including revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who was recently quizzed in a drugs-related case, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and state ministers Sikander Singh Maluka and Tota Singh.
The jam: Sukhbir Badal’s plan to come to rally as part of motorcade of party workers resulted in a long jam and delay in his arrival to rally venue.