Declaring that he was a truer Sikh than the Jathedars who had always used the Panthic card to promote their petty political interests, Punjab Congress president and Gurdaspur nominee Sunil Jakhar on Thursday lashed out at the Badals for asking him not to speak on issues of Sikhism.The whole of Punjab knew that he had always stood by the Sikh ethos and people were also well aware of his political ideology of raising the voice for the poor and the masses, Jakhar said, addressing a series of worker meetings in Fatehgarh Churian.Jakhar also lashed out at the Badals for unnecessarily criticising the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission probing sacrilege cases, including the Behbal Kalan firing incident, and said they were doing so for fear of being exposed. Once the findings come, the people would find out on whose orders the police had opened fire, he added.The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president came down heavily, once again, on the Badals on the farm loan waiver issue, asking Parkash Singh Badal how many homes of farmers who committed suicide during his tenure had he visited as chief minister.
Accusing the Akali leaders of making business out of governance, Jakhar pointed out that merely for minting Rs 5 crore, spurious pesticides were purchased by the erstwhile government, resulting in damage to 12 lakh acres of cotton crop. It was Captain Amarinder Singh at whose behest Rs 640 crore was eventually given in compensation to the cotton growers, he pointed out, adding that the Badals never had the welfare of farmers at heart and would not have compensated the farmers had Captain Amarinder not fought for them.Jakhar said while Sukhbir’s criticism of Captain Amarinder could be dismissed as his usual habit of making absurd statements, he was surprised at Parkash Singh Badal’s disparagement of the Congress government on the farm loan waiver issue. Badal Senior should have appreciated the fact that Captain Amarinder was arranging Rs 9500 crore to waive off loans of 10.25 lakh farmers despite the empty coffers, said Jakhar, adding that the Chief Minister could feel the pain of the farmers and their families.The Congress candidate expressed the confidence that once elected to Parliament, he would at least get the 8.5% interest on loan waived off from Centre and also get back every paisa lost due to the Rs 32000 crore food grain scam.He also took a dig at Sukhbir’s remark that the BJP candidate, Sarwan Salaria, was his personal friend, saying that Sukhbir only had friends who owned assets over Rs 1000 crores.
Ridiculing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to get Bullet Train into the country, Jakhar said people first need access to roads, which were totally lacking in the border belt of Gurdaspur. The Akalis failed to construct the much-needed roads and bridges to improve connectivity in this area, he said, adding that they could not plead Punjab’s case with Modi as the latter would question them about the Enforcement Directorate drugs case against Bikram Singh Majithia.Jakhar underlined the all-round failure of the Modi-led government at the Centre, pointing to communal strife in many parts of the country and the escalating prices of essential commodities, as well as the decline in procurement rates of paddy and other produce. He also referred to the article by Yashwant Sinha criticising the Modi government’s economic policies, saying everyone in the BJP was aware about the pathetic state of the economy but nobody was willing to speak out.Jakhar called upon the people of Gurdaspur to vote for the Congress to ensure that the government’s benefits reach the people instead of ending up in the pockets of the Badal family and their kith and kin.MLAs Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Harminder Singh Gill accompanied Jakhar at the meetings.