Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal promises ‘holy city’ status to Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib, if his party forms the government in Punjab. The Sikh-dominated state goes to polls early next year. He also promises a ban on liquor, tobacco, cigarette and meat in the walled city of Amritsar.
He said it here on Friday after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. “Whenever I come here, I get a lot of peace,” he said. Stressing that the war on corruption and drugs in Punjab was in a decisive stage, Kejriwal said that he had come to the holiest Sikh shrine to pray for strength to carry on the fight.
He appeared to have lost public-and-worker support from his previous visits. Mass resignation broke the party’s Amritsar unit over the sacking of Sucha Singh Chhotepur as state AAP convener after a cash-for-poll-ticket sting. Party’s zonal in-charge Gurinder Bajwa also quit in that exodus.
On Friday, the support looked thin even in the presence of heavyweight leaders such as Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, state unit convener Gurpreet Ghuggi, senior advocate and party candidate from Dakha in Ludhiana, HS Phoolka; and local candidate Inderbir Singh Nijjer. On Thursday, Amritsar’s former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Navjot Singh Sidhu had accused Kejriwal of not letting him into the AAP out of “insecurity”. At the house of former Akali councillor Amarjit Singh Bhatia, who joined his party, the AAP convener shunned the media to avoid answering this charge.
Besides Bhatia, Kejriwal also met the leaders of a couple of farmer unions. Bhatia, a two-time councillor, said: “I won from ward 43 as independent and joined the Shiromani Akali Dal, later. I quit the party over the incidents of the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab. The culprits remain free. The Badals (Punjab’s ruling family) took the state into a crisis. The AAP is a good alternative.”
Admn: No liquor, but no bar on meat, tobacco around Golden Temple
There are no liquor outlets inside the walled city here that encloses the Golden Temple but the sale of meat, cigarette, and other forms of tobacco is rampant in the area. The area hotels don’t have bar licence but the dhabas and roadside stalls sell the other items forbidden to devout Sikhs. A few liquor shops are along the walled city. Amritsar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam confirmed that liquor sale was banned inside the walled city but the sale of meat, tobacco, and cigarette was on. “We’ll take up the matter with the government,” he said.