Though he has opposed the evacuation of border villages in Punjab and called for defying government orders, Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh said on Wednesday that he needs no proof of cross-LoC surgical strikes and anyone asking for it is “insulting the army”.
“When the director general of military operations says terror launch pads across the LoC were destroyed, I believe every word he says. I have been a captain in the army and served it in the 1965 war. I am a writer on military history. I have friends in the army and I am in regular touch with my regiment. I do not need a proof as I believe in the valour of my country’s forces,” Amarinder told HT in an interview.
Instead, he trained his guns on Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal saying the Delhi chief minister comes from an income tax background and suspects everything. “He believes in the doctrine of guilty unless proven innocent. Can we believe the propaganda of Pakistan, which is showing the international media -- and CNN even broadcasts it -- by putting its own men dressed in olive green uniform as Indian soldiers at the LoC? He is a joker to ask for proof to unmask such propaganda,” Amarinder said.
The Congress, which has come back into Punjab’s poll game not as much owing to its own campaign but recent setbacks suffered by the AAP starting from manifesto goof-up, sacking of its state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur and reverse swings being played by cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, has stolen a march over Kejriwal’s party in the poll-bound state by questioning the evacuation of border villages after the strikes.
Backed by loyalist MLAs from border areas, Amarinder has thrown the ruling SAD-BJP alliance off balance by asking villagers to defy government evacuation orders. He attacked both the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Parkash Singh Badal government in Punjab on the motive behind the evacuation without discrediting the surgical strikes.
“Badal is playing Modi’s game of creating war hysteria with an eye on the Uttar Pradesh polls to show his chest of 56 inches has expanded to 58. Both the striking and holding units of the army are in their barracks in places such as Bathinda, Jalandhar and Ambala. Why did the CM try to create panic by displacing border villagers? On Wednesday, he ordered border schools be reopened. How can children go to school if their families are told to move out? I asked villagers not to be misled by Badal and stay put in their villages and look after their crop, cattle and children,” he said.
DISAGREES WITH NIRUPAM
Amarinder, however, distanced himself from remarks of Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam saying he is not concerned about what a party leader said in Maharashtra. On Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala too asking the Modi government to release evidence to discredit Pakistan propaganda that no strikes took place, he said former Union minister P Chidambaram has said that surgical strikes took place even during the UPA rule but it never made them public. “The party is opposed to the Modi government’s bid to take political mileage out of the strikes,” the former chief minister said.
The AAP, which is battling hostile fire over Kejriwal’s demand for proof even in Punjab, is now toeing Amarinder’s line. Its leaders led by state convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich (Ghuggi) on Tuesday asked Badal at a press conference that if the evacuation orders came from the Centre, why was the BSF unaware. He was referring to BSF director general KK Sharma’s tweet: “India never gave orders for evacuation of villages near international border post.”