Bitter political opponents will now fight on the same side. Cutting across party lines, the Congress and BJP leaders have joined hands to support shopkeepers here in opposing the Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) proposal of removing shops outside Jallianwala Bagh and the Golden Temple.
Raj Kumar Verka, vice-chairman of the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, for the Congress, and former health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla for the BJP declared the combining of efforts here on Sunday.
The leaders will hold demonstrations in support of the cause from July 3. Confirming that she would hold a demonstration with Verka, Chawla said the entire city stood by the shopkeepers. "We will continue our protests until the AIT revokes the scheme," she said, charged the trust with demolishing the walled city, which was a symbol of the city's heritage, in the name of laying new roads.
People who run shops outside the Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh have been protesting against the AIT for the past many days. Sources said some of them had collected compensation already from the improvement trust.
Addressing the media, Verka said he could not bear to see the city being ruined and so had teamed up with Chawla to bring justice to shopkeepers. On Saturday, he had met the shopkeepers demonstrating outside Jallianwala Bagh. "We have to cut across party lines to save the city," he said, adding that after meeting the shopkeepers, he had met Chawla, and got her assurance of support. "The parties have decided to oppose the scheme together," said Verka.
"It is a conspiracy to evacuate the entire city. Land mafia has purchased the shops for low price and now attempts are being made to oust the traders," said the SC/ST commission vice-chairman, adding that he had also spoken with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in this regard.