Jor Mela: Punjab in poll mode as parties declare all-out war
Putting Punjab in poll mode, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal announced his plan to kick-start his party’s election campaign with a rally in Muktsar on January 14 whereas the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress also sharpened their attacks on each other on a politically electrifying Sunday.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh and AAP state leaders while addressing separate political conferences during the state-level “Shaheedi Jor Mela”, hit out at each other like never before.
Badal, in a scathing attack, called the Congress the “number one enemy of Sikhs” and dismissed AAP as a bunch of “misguided novices”. Rejecting radical leaders and their separatist ideas as “irresponsible”, the chief minister said that Punjab was in not in a position to bear turmoil anymore.
Capt Amarinder Singh, charged up after his return as the state unit head, said the Badal-led SAD was not the real Akali Dal. “The real Akali Dal was in the times of Phoola Singh whereas Badals now control SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar and Makkar controls the Akal Takht,” he charged before speaking on “highhandedness” of Akalis during their rule. Other party leaders projected Amarinder as a “tried and tested” alternative.
While Kejriwal’s plans indicate that the AAP is switching gears, party’s state leaders Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Bhagwant Mann, however, dubbed both the SAD and the Congress as “two sides of the same coin” and promised to order a probe into their “misdeeds” after assuming power in the state.
. Leader after leader accused Amarinder and Badal of playing a “friendly match”, pitching their party as an alternative.
“Before AAP, the Punjabis had no alternative. They had to vote for SAD or Congress. Now, you have an option,” Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann told the gathering. The newbie party not only managed to match their more-organised and experienced rivals in pulling crowd, their gathering also appeared to somewhat more responsive.