A day before Capt Amarinder Singh’s coronation as the Punjab Congress chief, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Monday termed him as a failed ‘jarnail’ (general), while declaring that the SAD’s Patiala rally on Tuesday would demolish Amarinder’s ‘qila’ (fort).
Addressing the gathering at the Sadbhawna rally here, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “There is a rule in the army that a failed ‘jarnail’ is never deployed on a lost front. But it is shocking that Amarinder has been again given the charge of a front (Punjab Congress) where he has failed previously.”
Accusing the Captain of vendetta, the CM said, “I challenge everybody to tell me whether a false case has been registered against anyone. It’s the Congress which had been misusing power in the past. Amarinder sent many Akali workers to jail and atrocities were committed against them.”
Badal further said, “I know his (Amarinder’s) nature very well. He tries to show guts but has fears inside.”
He also asked Amarinder to examine the track record of the Congress, which had always remained inimical to Punjab and Punjabis, before making tall claims to safeguard interests of the state and its people. Badal cautioned the people of the state in general and Sikhs in particular that the Congress was their number one enemy.
Badal claimed that the large turnout in Sadbhawna rallies showed that people wanted peace and communal harmony in the state.
Announcing social welfare schemes to be launched by the state government, the CM said the enhanced old-age pension and the Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojana, with free treatment up to Rs 50,000, would be implemented from January 2016.
Badals differ on reasons for holding rally
Amid the Amarinder bashing, Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Badal seemed to differ on the reasons for holding the Patiala rally.
Sukhbir said, “The SAD rally will demolish Amarinder’s ‘qila’ and no existence will be left of the Congress after that.” However, the CM said in his speech, “We are not organising the Patiala rally for the sake of confrontation. We are doing it because no rally had been held in Patiala or Fatehgarh Sahib.”
Notably, Sukhbir had announced the Patiala rally after Amarinder declared that he would hold a rally in Bathinda.
Targeting the Gandhi family, Sukhbir said, “The Gandhis had always played with the sentiments of Sikhs to garner political mileage. This time, too, they implemented their anti-Punjab agenda through radical elements by holding a congregation (‘Sarbat Khalsa’) in Amritsar district.”
Calling the success of the SAD rallies as a befitting reply to the anti-Punjab forces, the SAD president said people had given a mandate for development and peace.
Hitting out at the Congress leadership, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia said the party could never absolve itself of its role in the 1984 genocide against Sikhs. He dared former MLA Ramanjit Sikki not to contest the Khadoor Sahib byelection on the Congress ticket as the party had the blood of innocent Sikhs on its hands.
In his speech, food and civil supplies minister Adaish Partap Singh Kairon said Punjab was the only state in the country which was providing free atta-dal to about 1.5 crore people out of the total population of 2.5 crore, in consonance with the Sikh philosophy of providing food to everyone and let none starve due to penury.
Meanwhile, Khadoor Sahib MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura criticised the state Congress leadership for playing a pro-active role in organising the November 10 ‘Sarbat Khalsa’. National BJP general secretary Tarun Chugh expressed confidence that the SAD-BJP alliance would complete a hat-trick by winning the 2017 assembly elections.
Local BJP leadership stays away
BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh and Punjab unit vice-president Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina were present at the rally, but the local BJP leadership stayed away. Local leaders had announced on Saturday to boycott the rally, accusing the state government of failing to deliver justice in the case of last year’s attack on Raja Joshi, brother of cabinet minister Anil Joshi. During the rally, no BJP minister or MLA was present.