In season of BJP discontent with Akalis, RSS heaps praise on Cong govt for ‘solving’ targeted killings

Days after Akalis boycott its Sikh wing’s event, RSS state media head, other leaders’ FB posts underline the wedge between BJP, SAD.

punjab Updated: Nov 12, 2017 10:01 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
SAD-BJP,politics,Narendra Modi
In his Facebook posts, RSS Punjab media in-charge Ram Gopal lauded the state government and police for busting what is being termed a terror module backed by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI. (HT File/Representative image )

Amid a rift between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Punjab over the former’s boycott of 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh organised in New Delhi last month by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, a wing of the BJP’s ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the latter has heaped praise on the Congress government in the state for nabbing men allegedly involved in targeted killings of its leaders and others.

Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and state police chief Suresh Arora had on Tuesday claimed to have solved last year’s killing of Brig Jagdish Gagneja (retd), second-in-command of the RSS in Punjab, and another RSS leader Ravinder Gosain, besides four other targeted killings of right-wing leaders and a pastor in Ludhiana.

In his Facebook posts the next day, RSS Punjab media in-charge Ram Gopal lauded the state government and police for busting what is being termed a terror module backed by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI.

In the comments below, while a Sangh supporter hailed Amarinder as a “nationalist”, Sudhir Mahajan, RSS worker and independent councillor in Gurdaspur earlier with the BJP, mocked the “inability” of the previous Akali-BJP government to nab the killers.

When contacted, Gopal said the targeted killings (of RSS and leaders of other organisations and faiths) was creating an atmosphere of mistrust in the state. “People of Punjab have once again started having confidence in the government, administration and the police. The Captain government deserves full credit for it,” he said.

Sangh-Takht divide

Not only did the SAD skip the function of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat which was attended by Union home minister Rajnath Singh and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, also gave a call to the community to not take part in the event. This week, the BJP hit out at Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), for saying that “there is nothing wrong in raising the demand for Khalistan”. While Badungar had apparently referred to a Supreme Court judgment — which says that such a demand without incitement to violence does not amount to sedition — Punjab BJP secretary Vineet Joshi held a press conference and said the demand amounts to sedition.

Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka, too, has termed Badungar’s statement “an act of sedition”.

Fanning the fire

Amarinder, on his part, has been fuelling Akali-BJP bushfires. In a press conference after the Congress won the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll on October 15, he had blamed the Akalis for the loss of BJP candidate Swaran Salaria, saying that the combine fared worst in the assembly segments held by Akalis in the constituency.

In Gurdaspur, before the February assembly polls, local BJP president Ashok Vaid had to give up his post after asking voters to defeat two local Akali leaders at a rally. He, too, remains unapologetic.

“Akali leaders like Gurbachan Singh Babbehali and Sewa Singh Sekhwan had slapped false cases on BJP workers in Gurdaspur. BJP paid the price of not listening to its own leaders, so we lost Gurdaspur by nearly 2 lakh votes. I am still in the BJP, and the party has to realise it is paying a heavy price for supporting the Akalis,” Vaid said.

First Published: Nov 12, 2017 09:38 IST