Captain Amarinder Singh, Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, is against Hindu radical organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s holding “shakhas” (daily gatherings) in the villages of Punjab, saying these might lead to communal polarisation and reactions from certain quarters that might threaten peace in the state.
“The RSS leadership should reconsider the decision to hold shakhas in the rural areas of this state,” he said in an interaction with the media on Sunday on the sidelines of the Congress workers’ meeting here. “I hope better sense prevails,” he added.
The Amritsar parliamentarian based his observation on the reports suggesting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was planning to expand its base in rural Punjab. He said the BJP and the RSS were not separate.
On SAD-BJP rift
Asked about the differences between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP that had come into the open, he said the Punjab BJP just could not wriggle out at this stage, even if it parted ways with the Akalis.
“The BJP cannot put all the blame on the SAD and wash its hands of it. The BJP and the Akalis have been partners in the sins of omission and commission all these years. One cannot claim to be more honest than the other,” he added.
He said the people of Punjab were as disillusioned with the BJP as they were with the Akalis. “They (the BJP leaders) have got the best of the ruling opportunity and their leaders have been accused of corruption. It is immaterial now whether they fight (polls) with the Akalis or separately,” Amarinder added.
‘Cong stands by Longowal accord’
The Congress leader said the stand of his party on the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab was clear by the Rajiv-Longowal accord signed in 1985. He accused chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of raking up the issue when the survival of his government was threatened.
To a question about enhanced compensation to the families affected in the 1984 riots, he replied that justice remained to be done. “The judicial process needs to be speeded up. The investigation in most riot cases is over. The terror victims of Punjab deserve a matching compensation,” he added.
‘Sonia best for Cong’
The Congress MP said the party had distanced self from the opinion of senior leader Digvijay Singh that Rahul Gandhi was fit to take over as party president. He said Sonia Gandhi was a fine leader and Rahul was performing an equally important role as party vice-president.
The Amritsar MP said the party was united in Punjab and certain issues had been brought to the notice of the high command.
Back after 4 months
This was the second Amritsar visit of Capt Amarinder Singh after he won this Lok Sabha seat in May by trouncing now union minister Arun Jaitley. He then went to Delhi to take oath as MP and attend the Lok Sabha session. He returned in the last week of June to thank voters and stayed for three days.
After four months now, he is back, much to the joy of the local party leaders who were being asked to explain his long absence from the constituency.