Facing the heat of politico-religious upheaval in the past over one month, the surprising presence of people in Monday’s much-hyped Sadbhawna rally is likely to help the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) regain confidence of people in the backdrop of a series of sacrilege incidents.
The SAD had refrained from calling it a show of strength, which it turned out to be with the message to the party cadres that they should be ready for the 2017 assembly polls and “expose” the agenda of the Congress and Sikh radicals among the masses.
With this in mind, the chief minister even asked for deputing volunteers in villages to spread the party’s message.
Indeed, the effect of the recent sacrilege incidents was visible as the speakers referred to the crowd as ‘Khalsaji’, instead of ‘Veero (brothers)’.
However, majority of the SAD-BJP leaders who spoke on the occasion reiterated their old allegation against the Congress, Simranjit Singh Mann-led SAD (Amritsar) and Panthic organisations for pushing the state back to the days of terrorism.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal charged up the atmosphere by sounding the poll bugle for the 2017 assembly elections. Interestingly, Sukhbir gave credit to the CM for all “pro-people decisions” the SAD-BJP government had taken.
Sukhbir said the probe into the desecration incident at Bargari was handed over to the CBI not under any pressure but to ensure a thorough investigation. “The investigation by Punjab Police had revealed foreign links. Punjab Police can’t probe the foreign links, so the probe was handed over to the CBI,” he said.
He also targeted Delhi chief minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal for claiming that AAP would make Punjab free of drugs, saying Kejriwal should first get rid of the “drinking” habit of his party MP Bhagwant Mann.
Meanwhile, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal asked people to be wary of the “dubious role” of anti-Punjab and anti-Panthic forces who were trying to reorganise themselves to disturb peace in the state.
He said the leaders of these groups and the self-proclaimed jathedars had no base among the masses.
Also, the recent visit of Rahul Gandhi to Punjab was prominently targeted by the speakers, who held Congress responsible for playing with sentiments of people of Punjab by disturbing law and order.
The SAD had pulled out all the stops to make this show of strength a success.