Setting the stage for an all-out offensive in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls by giving a call to “throw out” the rookie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), top Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership on Wednesday targeted AAP and its convener Arvind Kejriwal as the prime political adversary and “enemy” of Punjab.
SAD patron and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in tandem with SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal sent out a loud and clear message from the Baisakhi conference here — marking the foundation day of the Khalsa Panth — that the SAD-BJP combine would face the stiff challenge from the AAP and not the Congress in the high-stake assembly elections.
Be battle ready: Sukhbir
Sukhbir repeatedly described the AAP as a rookie party of “topianwale” and called upon the party rank and file that the decisive “battle against the AAP and Congress” has begun, the senior Badal slammed the AAP for stabbing Punjabis in the back by backing Haryana’s case on the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal in the Supreme Court. Not only the father-son duo, but also the second-rung of the Akali leadership took turns in launching a no-holds barred offensive against the AAP, which is rapidly emerging as a major source of trouble for both the ruling SAD and the opposition Congress.
Pumped-up by the responsive and impressive presence of crowd, mainly party workers, the entire discourse of the Akali Dal leadership revolved around taking potshots at the AAP during the three-hour conference that also marked embarrassing disruptions and protests by job-seeking youth when Sukhbir was speaking. The sudden and repeated protests in different blocks of the venue caused flutters, provoking Sukhbir who dismissed the protesters as “topianwale.”
In a tactical move, the Akali Dal’s venue was adjoining Takht Damdama Sahib, the fifth seat of the authority of Sikhs. Devotees had thronged the shrine in hoards, where the 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh had stayed for over a year in 1705 and took rest by untying his waistband.
Kejriwal is anti-Punjab: Harsimrat
Earlier, in a short but spirited speech with focus on “Panth”, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal laid the foundation for anti-AAP attack by reminding people that certain forces were “trying to shake the foundation of Khalsa Panth” and hoped that these “misguided people” will find the right course.
“Kejriwal is anti-Punjab and anti-Panth who attacked Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Delhi and took anti-Punjab stand on the SYL canal. Today is the beginning of the battle against the AAP and Congress. This jung (battle) will continue to bring back to power the Panthic sarkaar…Let us throw out these topianwale (AAP) they have no sympathy and concern for Punjab,” Sukhbir said amid cheers from the crowd who turned up in numbers that gave the much respite to the party leadership.
Sukhbir strikes chord with workers
As the advantage of the AAP is that its supporters consider themselves as an integral part of the party, the SAD president, anxious to restore similar faith of Akali workers in their party, told them that the Akali Dal was not an “ancestral property of Sukhbir and Parkash Singh Badal.” He said: “It’s your party. It is due to the blood and sweat of your ancestors that the Akali Dal is a big and the second-oldest party. Some people have set up a new party. They cannot compete with the Akali Dal, its leadership and dedicated workers.”
And the chief minister Badal fired the final anti-AAP salvo after reminding the significance of Baisakhi and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on this day and informing people about “anti-Punjab” stand the AAP took on the SYL issue in the Supreme Court.
The AAP, Badal told the gathering, had attempted to strike at very root of Punjab by supporting Haryana on SYL canal issue.
In a further push to his “AAP is anti-Punjab” tirade, the SAD patron read out the contents of the affidavit the AAP filed in the Supreme Court against Punjab’s stand on the SYL issue.
Also, Badal reminded people about Congress’ role in the SYL canal and wondered: “The Congress attacked Harmandir Sahib and massacred Sikhs in 1984. How can people support this party?”
Claiming that he will make any sacrifice to protect Punjab waters and calling upon people to get ready for a bigger battle, Badal took an indirect hit at the Supreme Court also for holding hearings every week on the water dispute.
“In our case, the Supreme Court is holding hearing twice a week, even as in other cases hearing doesn’t take place for six months,” Badal said, reiterating his pet phrase “Punjab doesn’t have a drop of water to share” and that Punjab will not accept any decision that goes against the state on water dispute.
“There is no need of the SYL canal… Now, get ready to wage a bigger panni di ladai,” he concluded.