Amid a disappointing gathering and disruptions by the protesting unemployed linemen, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) declared a war against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress at the Maghi Mela rally here on Thursday.
Both chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal focused on targeting the AAP and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal calling the AAP as a “topiwalli” party. As usual, both harped on the development agenda.
The unemployed linemen started raising anti-government slogans as soon as both the CM and deputy CM began their speeches, leaving the Badals red-faced. The police swung into action and detained a dozen protesters.
The rally embarrassed the SAD owing to the thin attendance as compared to that of previous years. The deputy CM was seen asking senior police officials and organisers to manage the crowd. Half the place was empty when Sukhbir reached the stage.
Both the CM and deputy CM exhorted people to vow to bring the SAD-BJP alliance into power for the third consecutive time. “Bring us to power, we will bring a revolution in Punjab and address all your problems,” Badal said.
Terming Kejriwal as a non-Punjabi, Badal called the AAP ‘shurlibaaz’ (rumour-mongers) and its leaders fraudsters. “Kejriwal is not from Punjab and knows nothing about the state. I can guarantee you that Kejriwal cannot differentiate even between the varieties of crop as he had not stayed at a village,” Badal said, adding that the AAP is a unit of fugitives and turncoats of the SAD and Congress.
“The AAP formed the government in Delhi by making false promises, and now they are trying to fool the people of Punjab. AAP leaders are trying to divert people’s attention from the real issues,” Badal said.
Terming state Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh as an “indisciplined soldier”, the chief minister said though Amarinder claimed to have served in the army, he had not learnt anything from the disciplined force. He said the real face of the Congress had been exposed in recent months after it supported the radical Sarbat Khalsa. “By supporting anti-national and anti-Punjab forces, the Congress has been making every effort to disrupt the hard-earned peace in the state,” Badal said, while pleading with people not to support the Congress.
Badal reiterated that over the years, the Congress had done injustice to Punjab by snatching its capital, its legitimate share in river waters and Punjabi-speaking areas, besides wounding the Sikh psyche by attacking the Golden Temple and killing thousands of innocent Sikhs in 1984.
SAD only saviour of Sikhs: Sukhbir
Addressing the gathering, Sukhbir termed the SAD as the saviour of the Sikh community. “If you make the Akali Dal stronger, the Sikh community will remain strong. But if the Akali Dal is weakened, then everything will be lost,” Sukhbir said. “The time has come to go in the battlefield to bring the SAD into power by cornering these “topiwale”, Sukhbir said while referring to AAP leaders.
He asked SAD workers to work round the clock to promote the government’s development agenda in every nook and corner of the state in the coming one year. Terming Kejriwal as a “betrayer”, Sukhbir said Kejriwal first betrayed Anna Hazare by coming up with a political outfit, then he betrayed the people of Delhi by giving high perks to his MLAs. “They (AAP) are the new enemies of Punjab as they will now come up with a useless agenda here. Kejriwal is more of a drama king than a leader, and people must be wary of him and not fall in his trap,” Sukhbir said.
Taking a dig at the Congress, Sukhbir said the balloon of the party had burst and Amarinder’s elevation to the post of state Congress chief would not make a difference as the party was nowhere in the picture. “I recently got a call from a Congress MLA close to Amarinder saying his style of functioning had become worse in his recent stint as the state party chief,” Sukhbir said.
Deputy CM takes a dig at AAP
Taking a dig at the AAP, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “Kejriwal must ask (Bhagwant) Mann to leave the habit of alcohol before commenting on Punjab’s drug issue.”
Excuses for thin attendance
Seeing a thin attendance, SAD leaders were seen making excuses, including traffic chaos, for the disappointing gathering.
BJP leaders missing
The entire top leadership of the BJP gave the rally a miss; only health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani was present and addressed the gathering.
Sukhbir praises CM
Sukhbir was all praise for his father and chief minister, saying no one like Parkash Singh Badal could ever be born in Punjab again as he had given his everything to the people and party. “He loves you (people) more than he loves me,” Sukhbir said.
A ‘young’ CM
In a lighter vein, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “Don’t go by my age. I am still young and will remain so.”