Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s coming to this “citadel” of Punjab’s ruling family during his two-day state visit seems to have stirred the beleaguered Akali leadership in the Malwa region.
Drawing flak over farmers’ issues and sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, the Shiromani Akali Dal legislators and MPs are facing public ire during functions across the region. The Congress united show on Thursday, which they have dismissed as “political stunt”, might make the sensitive situation more complicated.
The Akali leaders of Malwa are upset even by the visits of the central leaders to the families of two police-firing victims in Faridkot villages. Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal was at Bargari on October 24. SAD’s Rajya Sabha member Balwinder Singh Bhunder said Rahul’s visiting Punjab at this time of crisis raised doubts about his intentions. “Is he here to express solidarity with the bereaved families or to show the divided Punjab Congress as united?” said the member of Parliament (MP), adding: “A man’s whose party was responsible for the massacre of Sikhs can’t be their sympathiser.”
State minister Sikander Singh Maluka said Rahul had come to complicate the law-and-order situation. “Why did he not visit the families of the Sikh killed in the 1984 Delhi riots and Operation Bluestar?” he said. Rahul is scheduled to visits Bhukianwali, Mallwala and Manwala villages in the Talwandi Sabo assembly constituency of Congress turncoat Jeet Mohinder Sidhu, who once was confidant of Amritsar MP Captain Amarinder Singh.
Rahul is expected to interact with farmers and the families of the tillers who committed suicide because of crop failure and debt. “Rahul didn’t want to be left behind in visiting Punjab when the situation is tense. The issues of farmers in my constituency are already addressed and the families of suicide victims have been paid adequate compensation,” said Sidhu.