Upping the ante in the battle for oneupmanship with newly-appointed Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday announced that his party would counter the opposition party’s December 13 Bathinda rally by holding a parallel rally that day opposite Amarinder’s New Moti Bagh palace residence in Patiala. The state Congress had on Monday fixed the date for Amarinder’s coronation in the Badal bastion of Bathinda.
Addressing the gathering at the SAD’s Sadbhawna rally here, Sukhbir accused the Congress of hobnobbing with anti-national forces which were out to foment trouble in the state, adding that the state government would not spare anybody who tried to disturb communal harmony.
Accusing Amarinder of being in league with Khalistani elements, he claimed that the former chief minister was always given a warm welcome by these elements on his visits abroad. However, Akalis were manhandled and not allowed to speak at functions in countries such as Canada and the US, he added.
The deputy CM regretted that the Congress was ready to adopt any means to gain political prominence and wrest power.
Coming down heavily on the Gandhi family, Sukhbir said this family had a long tradition of being the sworn enemy of Punjab in general and Sikhs in particular. He claimed that the Gandhis had attacked the Akal Takht and then carried out ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Sikhs in 1984.
He also accused Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi of having hatched a conspiracy to brand the Punjabi youth as drug addicts, whereas the truth was that Punjab was fighting the nation’s battle against drugs by checking their flow from across the border.
Punjab can’t afford another Partition: CM
Calling upon all Punjabis to join hands with the Akali-BJP government for giving a crushing blow to separatist and fundamental forces, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said here on Tuesday that Punjab and its people could not afford another Partition.
Addressing the gathering at the Sadbhawna rally, Badal said: “We lost the important shrines of Nankana Sahib, Panja Sahib and others to Pakistan. To this day, we pray to the Waheguru to grant us easy access to these shrines. Further division of the state would mean that we will have to seek visas for paying obeisance to our shrines of Patna Sahib, Hazur Sahib and others. Surely no one in this state wants this.”
“Punjabis are progressive by nature and they just cannot live in small-sized compartments. Having spread to every nook and corner of the country and the globe, they will never allow Punjab to be squeezed any further,” he added.
The chief minister reaffirmed his commitment to not let Punjab and Punjabis suffer any more on count of the ‘false’ propaganda unleashed by disruptive forces. He said these forces were hell-bent upon stirring religious sentiments of the people with the motive of disturbing the hard-earned peace and harmony in the state.
‘Hindus have started feeling unsafe in Punjab’
Claiming that certain sections, including the Hindus, had begun to feel unsafe in Punjab due to the recent unfortunate happenings, Badal said it had become necessary for his government to take steps to restore the confidence of the people. “These rallies are a step in this direction,” he added.
Taking on the Congress, Badal said its leadership could go to any extent to stoke fires for gaining political mileage from highly sensitive and emotive situations. He said he was ready to sacrifice his life for the sake of peace and harmony in the state as it was the most pious mission of his life and also the top priority of his government.
In his address, revenue and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia claimed that the newly-appointed Punjab Congress president could not evade responsibility for his party’s involvement in the radicals’ Sarbat Khalsa held on November 10.
State BJP president Kamal Sharma lauded the chief minister’s initiative to organise these rallies in the state, saying that these would go a long way in creating awareness among people about the significance of peace and harmony for achieving growth and prosperity. BJP’s national secretary Tarun Chugh said the Congress leadership was sadly mistaken that Amarinder would rejuvenate the party, which was a badly divided house and there was hardly any chance of its revival in the near future.
Senior Akali-BJP leaders, including former ministers Sucha Singh Langah and Sewa Singh Sekhwan, former assembly speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, MLAs Bibi Jagir Kaur and Ashwani Sharma, and Swarn Salaria also addressed the rally.