Jakhar, Sampla in war of words over Modi’s ‘independent soldier’ remark

Taking a dig at the PM, Jakhar said Modi had actually acknowledged the free and democratic culture prevailing in the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

punjab Updated: Mar 04, 2018 22:49 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Jakhar,Congress,Narendra Modi
Punjab BJP president Vijay Sampla (left) and state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar (HT Photos)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “independent soldier” remark on chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has triggered a war of words between Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar and state BJP president Vijay Sampla on Sunday.

While Jakhar termed the BJP dictatorial and autocratic where top leaders are banished, Sampla said Amarinder’s “outburst and statements against the Congress high command” in the past prove PM’s view point.

Delivering victory speech after win in Tripura assembly polls on Saturday, Modi mocked the Congress saying its CMs are becoming rare. Commenting on Amarinder, the PM said “neither he nor they (Congress) consider each other their own”. He also called Amarinder a ‘swatantra fauji’, which he tweeted later.

Amarinder was quick to dismiss Modi’s remark saying “it was a part of the BJP’s futile attempts to create a wedge between him and the Congress high command through frivolous and unsubstantiated statements ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls”.

Taking a dig at the PM, Jakhar said Modi had actually acknowledged the free and democratic culture prevailing in the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. “PM had also recognised the self-respecting and independent character of the Punjabis represented by Amarinder,” he added.

“This is quite contrary to the autocratic and dictatorial culture prevailing in the BJP under Modi where saner and seasoned voices like those of LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha have either been silenced or banished to the Margdarshak Mandal, keeping them out of any decision-making body of the party,” Jakhar said in a statement.

Backing the PM, Sampla said Amarinder’s occasional outbursts, interviews and statements against the Congress high command in the past few years were sufficient enough to prove the PM’s view point.

“The fact that Punjab cabinet expansion, which was supposed to take place on March 4, didn’t take shape makes is even more evident because Amarinder’s decision doesn’t bear the stamp of the Congress high command,” he adds.

Contradicting Sampla, Jakhar said the Congress needed no certificate from the BJP about watching the interests of Punjab. “If the BJP — which is leading the National Democratic Alliance government in the Centre — calls itself a well-wisher of Punjab, it should get Rs 31,000 crore reimbursed that was siphoned off by the previous state government in which the BJP was an alliance partner,” said Jakhar.

Similarly, he reminded the PM that it was twice during the BJP regime at the Centre that special packages were given to the hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir at the cost of Punjab’s economic and industrial interests.

Punjab’s economy is still suffering on account of these packages, Jakhar said, adding the Centre had never provided any relief package for border areas of the state.

Jakhar also referred to the “anti-Punjab” and “pro-Haryana” stance of the Modi government on the SYL Canal issue in the Supreme Court. The dispute had otherwise been settled for good by Amarinder way back in 2004 by enacting the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, said Jakhar.

First Published: Mar 04, 2018 22:33 IST