Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday contradicted the earlier stand of party candidate from Bathinda segment Manpreet Singh Badal on the issue of alleged forced displacement of Sikh farmers in Gujarat while addressing an election rally here.
Founder of People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), Manpreet is the only candidate in the country who originally does not belong to the Congress but is contesting on the Congress symbol. Also getting support of the CPI, Manpreet made Rahul to spare time for his election campaigning.
Rahul played the Sikh card by accusing the Gujarat government of victimising Sikh farmers in the state.
"Gujarati Sikh farmers came to me with tears in their eyes and explained that they were told to vacate the agricultural land cultivated by them for decades. They have been told to go back to Punjab.
Congress workers are fighting for them in Gujarat. Here, in Punjab, SAD is embracing BJP and there in Gujarat, Sikh farmers are being thrown out of the state," said Rahul exposing the alleged anti-minority face of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Interestingly, contrary to Rahul's views, Manpreet had denied to accept it as an issue of Sikh farmers alone, when the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) had told the Gujarat government to intervene to prevent the displacement of Sikh farmers in Kutch in August last year.
At that time, when Manpreet was asked if he believed it was a minority- related issue in Gujarat, he had said, “Don't say this is a problem of Punjab or Sikhs or anyone else. The real issue is that it is against the law of the land. Every Indian has the right to stay and work in any part of the country.”
More importantly, in those times, Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal was also endorsing similar thoughts by calling it only an issue related to farmers but not of Sikh farmers.
Today, without mentioning 2002 riots or Sikh farmers' issue, Manpreet, speaking before Rahul, took a dig at Modi by calling him anti-minority.
Rahul told people that he took just 30 seconds to know Manpreet.
“Your candidate came to me a few months back. Jitne lambe hain, Uttana bada inka dil hai. (His heart is also as big as tall he is.) I took just 30 seconds to get to know about him. He was finance minister of Punjab and quit the chair for you people. You have to understand this,” said Rahul and asked the crowd to make Manpreet victorious.
Speaking to the enthusiastic crowd, Manpreet said, "Rahul Sahib, I am grateful to you for showing faith in me. I will always be grateful for your faith. I will stand before Congress workers and my chest will become shelter for Congress workers if time ever demanded it, (Or kabhi tang waqt agar aya to Manpreet ki shaati aage hogi or Congress ke workers ko main pieehe chupa lunga)."
Manpreet also told the crowd to give a message to Parkash Singh Badal that the sun of SAD has started setting.