The entire Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership was conspicuous by its absence from the politically significant Baisakhi rally of its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which was held here on Wednesday.
In what is called the Baisakhi conference, this was the last important political conference coinciding with the religious fair of Baisakhi before the upcoming assembly polls. Punjab goes to polls in early 2017 and Wednesday’s rally was high on symbolism.
The absence of the BJP was in sharp contrast to the leaders of the saffron party on previous similar occasions. This led to the raising of hackles in the Akali Dal camp as in the past even senior central BJP leaders used to come to attend the Baisakhi rally of the SAD. Even the local BJP leadership of Bathinda district gave a miss to the conference. However, it is reportedly learnt that the BJP had conveyed that the newly appointed state party president and Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Vijay Sampla would attend the rally. But he didn’t turn up at the rally.
Meanwhile, the SAD had deployed volunteers from Youth Akali Dal and Student Organisation of India (SOI) at the venue to ensure a large audience for the speakers.
Lashing out at Congress, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal held the party responsible for the plight of Punjab and Punjabis. He said people should remember that every person who supported Congress was actually supporting Operation Bluestar, which he said was a direct assault on the Sikhs.
Earlier, Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder compared the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with the Mughals. “Even the Mughals had not dared to enter Punjab and AAP leaders from Delhi are daydreaming of ruling the state,” Bhunder said.
He added that no party could match Badal’s dedication and service towards Punjab and his courage and boldness in handling Punjab issues in his long political career.
Bhunder also compared the rule of SAD under Parkash Singh Badal with that of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
“After Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Badal saab has brought Punjab back on the world map. He is a true worker of the Panth and we have to make the next year historic by winning the elections for him,” said Bhunder.
On the other hand, Union food processing minister and Bathinda MP, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, kept her speech apolitical. Harsimrat exhorted people to take a firm pledge for foiling the nefarious designs of anti-Punjab forces which were hell-bent on ruining the state.
Other speakers, cabinet ministers Sikander Singh Maluka and Janmeja Singh Sekhon appealed to SAD workers to gear up for the 2017 assembly elections.
“We should overcome factionalism and fight assembly elections in unity to defeat the opposition parties, who are trying to gain importance by telling lies to the people of Punjab,” Maluka said.
Prominent among others present on the occasion were cabinet minister Daljit Singh Cheema, chief parliamentary secretaries Sarup Chand Singla, Mantar Singh Brar, Sant Balbir Singh Ghunas and Talwandi Sabo MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu and other MLAs from Malwa.
Read about the AAP and Congress rallies in Talwandi Sabo here: