Union minister of state for information and broadcasting (independent charge) Manish Tewari on Friday warned against “criminalisation of politics in Punjab”.
He said: “The violence unleashed by the Akalis in Punjab during the past few days in the course of electioneering for zila parishad and block samiti elections was quite unprecedented and does not portend well for the state.”
Addressing a series of public meetings in support of party candidates contesting zila parishad and block samiti elections in Dakha assembly segment, Tewari condemned the Rampura Phull incident on Thursday, where a person was killed. In another incident on Friday two persons lost their lives near Amritsar.
The minister said: "The elections are fought with ballots and not with bullets. But unfortunately recent elections have shown us how Akalis are taking a dangerous course of armed confrontation leading to loss of precious lives.” “There must be a clear and unambiguous message that violence cannot be tolerated and the culprits must be brought to book,” he said, adding that this was a test for the conscience and credibility of the government.
“If the culprits are not brought to book immediately, it will only reinforce the belief that it is the Akalis, who are unleashing violence on their political opponents after failing to face them politically,” he said.
Tewari said, “Punjab was never known for violence during elections. The confrontations were just political and not personal and that too, to the extent to kill the opponents was quite unheard of.”
The minister said that those who have confidence and faith in the democratic process and in their supporters can never resort to such violent acts aimed at intimidating and arm-twisting their opponents.
“This is a sign of frustration and defeat, which the Akalis are betraying by resorting to violence,” he said.
Tewari was accompanied by former MLA and in charge of Dakha assembly segment Jassi Khangura, former minister Milkiat Singh Dakha, district Congress president Pawan Dewan among others.