Upping the ante against Punjab chief minister (CM) Parkash Singh Badal, Congress leader and former CM Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday asked him to clarify if he had met a senior union minister in New Delhi before going into "hiding" ahead of Operation Bluestar.
Amarinder said people wanted to know about it since "this is crucial to Badal's role and stand on the operation, particularly after he went into hiding leading to a lot of suspicion about his voluntary disappearance".
The former CM, who was involved in negotiations before the operation, held Badal "equally responsible" for it and said "he (Badal) was one of the main reasons behind the situation". Refuting Badal's claim that he was put behind bars by the then Congress government, he said Badal was a free man before, during and after the operation, and deliberately went into hiding "for reasons best known to him".
The Congress leader accused Badal of trying to make a political capital out of the situation. On the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Amarinder said he had heard of the involvement of five prominent Congress leaders - Sajjan Kumar, HKL Bhagat, Dharam Dass Shastri, Lalit Maken and Arjun Dass.
He said it was wrong to say that nobody had been punished for the riots. He said 442 people were convicted for the riots, and 49 of them were sentenced to life imprisonment and three of them to ten years or more imprisonment. Six police officers were also punished for lapses, he said.
Amarinder asked Badal why he was quiet about the role of RSS and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in the 1984 riots. "Just because it does not suit you politically and they are your allies, you are not speaking against them," he said, adding: "Why such double standards?"
Asserting that Operation Bluestar was a wrong decision which he had opposed then, Amarinder referred to senior BJP leader L K Advani's claims in his autobiography 'My Country My Life' where he has written about speaking in Parliament and meeting then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to seek military action in the Golden Temple. "Why have you not asked Advani to apologise?" he asked Badal, while releasing a picture showing Advani leading a delegation to the then PM with a banner seeking army action in Golden Temple.