Holding the Congress and pro-Khalistan forces responsible for “disturbing” peace in Punjab, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in a display of its “mass base” during the Sadbhawna rally on Monday dubbed the Congress and Sikh radicals as “two sides of the same coin”.
With impressive attendance of workers and supporters in what was billed as the litmus test for the party and state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders giving the much-needed support, the SAD launched a no-holds-barred attack against the Congress, cautioning people against peacevitiating designs of opposition and the radicals.
After nearly two months of unrest in Punjab due to protests, mainly led by Sikh radical organisations, against incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, Monday’s massive show of strength organised by the Akali Dal was an attempt to retrieve the lost ground and bounce back politically.
Akali Dal patriarch and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, in tandem with SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, linked the Congress with the pro-Khalistan forces accusing them of disrupting peace to damage the ruling SAD. “This rally is the beginning of the 2017 electoral battle,” Sukhbir thundered, challenging the Congress leadership to organise another rally at the same venue to see how many people were with them.
“The Chabba function (venue of ‘Sarbat Khalsa’) had established the fact that radical groups, who were bent on disturbing peace, harmony and tranquillity in the state, and the anti-Sikh Congress were the two sides of the same coin,” Badal said, pointing out that “overwhelming participation of people” vindicated the SAD’s stand that people would never be swayed by the false propaganda unleashed by the “anti-Punjab forces”.
Referring to the “dark days” which left Punjab “way behind other states,” Badal said the “two forces” had again joined hands with the sole aim of disturbing the hard-earned peace and communal harmony.
“Mann (SAD Amritsar president Simranjit Singh Mann) has said that the Chabba congregation was not for ‘paschatap’ (repentance)....Everyone knows why it was held...to make money…It has become their habit,” Badal said.
In a twin attack on Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh and state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, Badal said, “Amarinder Singh ji, you want to become the state president of the Congress which had attacked the Golden Temple, while Bajwa ji, you are the chief of Punjab Congress, the party which is responsible for the massacre of Sikhs.” However, in an appeal to all opposition parties, especially Congress leaders Amarinder and Bajwa, Badal asked them to shun “divisive politics” and also advised them “not to play with fire with the ulterior motive to disturb peace and harmony in the state”. Badal said, “The flames of hatred politics would not only destroy the social fabric of the state but would also engulf them (opposition leaders).”
Saying these rallies were not for political gains but to “reinforce the trust and confidence of people” in the wake of the November 10 congregation organised by anti-Punjab and anti-Panthic elements “supported by the Congress to misguide the innocent people by exploiting their religious sentiments”. “The rally was organised to promote peace, communal harmony and brotherhood as people got scared in the wake of the recent incidents in the state,” Badal said.
He said actions of the Congress leadership were clearly aimed at pushing the state back to the days of militancy