The state-level function to mark the 29th death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal here on Wednesday proved a platform for the SAD-BJP combine to criticise the Congress, as all speakers, including chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, accused the Congress of playing tricks to 'divide' and 'suppress' Sikhs.
Addressing a gathering after paying tributes to Longowal, the chief minister began by mentioning the Rajiv-Longowal accord (1985) and accused the Congress of not keeping the promises made in the accord of transferring Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas of Haryana to Punjab.
"Ladai ke din dushman ke ghar nahin jana chahiye, maine Longowal ji ko roka tha (during the days of fight, we should not got to the enemy's territory, I had tried to dissuade Longowal)," Badal said, adding, "But some leaders took him there for talks, and he had to pay for it with his life."
He said, "But in spite of the supreme sacrifice by Sant Longowal, the Congress did not give Chandigarh to Punjab."
He accused the Congress of discrimination against Punjab saying, "Since Independence, people of Punjab have been becoming the victim of discrimination as during 60 years of the Congress rule in the country, not even a single big project was given to Punjab. Due to a lack of support from the Centre, our industry has shifted to the neighbouring states."
He said, "Agriculture was the backbone of Punjab's economy, but now our farmers are debt-ridden and the entire state is under debt. Now the Modi government at the Centre has come as a ray of hope to Punjab as the Prime Minister understands the problems of every section of society."
State BJP president Kamal Sharma requested the gathering not to support the divisive forces, saying, "You should not forgive the parties and people who had tried to divide us by harming peace and harmony of Punjab."
Earlier, SAD general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP SS Dhindsa and his minister son Parminder Singh Dhindsa requested the chief minister to demand an IIT for Longowal from the Centre, and also requested him to ensure supply of river waters for irrigation in Sangrur in view of the depletion of the groundwater table in the region.
Those who spoke on the occasion included MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, forests minister Chunni Lal Bhagat and party leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia.