Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh rubbished Akali allegations of the Congress hobnobbing with the Khalistanis to play the religious card to garner votes in next year’s Lok Sabha elections, terming it a case of the Badals once again opening their disinformation channel to mislead the people.There was no question of support the Khalistanis, said Captain Amarinder Singh in response to a question, asserting that he always fought the ISI and divisive elements like the Khalistanis and would not allow them do disturb the hard-earned peace of his state.In a free-wheeling live interview with noted journalist Vir Sanghvi, the Chief Minister came out in strong defence of his government’s proposed anti-blasphemy law, providing for life imprisonment for all religious desecrations, saying it would act as the much-needed deterrent against any attempts to break up the nation.Trashing claims that the Badals had always stood for the unity of the country, Captain Amarinder Singh minced no words in holding Parkash Singh Badal responsible for the problems faced by Punjab, including the dark period of terrorism that claimed 35000 innocent lives. “He (Badal) always obstructed any move to secure settlement; every time we came close to resolution he would sabotage it,” said the Chief Minister, describing the Akali veteran as the master of sabotage whose modus operandi was to trigger an agitation whenever he wanted to become chief minister.The Chief Minister categorically denied going soft on the Badals, adding that he did not believe in politics of vendetta.
While describing Parkash Singh Badal as the greatest conniver, Captain Amarinder Singh made it clear that he would wait for justice to take its course.Captain Amarinder Singh cited figures from the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report to point out that there had been a spurt of desecration incidents post 2015 and his government felt that, in line with the Supreme Court directive, it was essential to strengthen the law against those seeking to foment trouble to divide the country on communal lines.The Chief Minister, in response to a question, reiterated that the 1984 riot victims he had met in the refugee camps had not named Jagdish Tyler but did name some other Congress leaders, viz HKL Bhagat, Saajan Kumar, Arjun Das and Dharam Das Shastri. He, however, reiterated that the complicity of a few individuals could not be blamed on the entire Congress party, which is what Rahul Gandhi had also stated, contrary to what was being projected.
Captain Amarinder Singh rejected any parallel between the 2002 Gujarat riots and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying while the former were engineered the latter were a reaction to the events preceding them. While those days would never be forgotten, they would soon be relegated to history, he said, asserting that the attempt by the BJP to rake up the 1984 issue will not change the voting pattern in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. People want jobs, peace and development, with the new generation not into religious bigotry at all, he added.The Chief Minister expressed the confidence of a clean sweep in Punjab by the Congress in the ensuring parliamentary elections, predicting all the 13 seats for the party.On the issue of Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan, Captain Amarinder Singh said he had given permission to his cabinet colleague to go for his friend’s swearing-in ceremony and had no objection to the same, nor to him sitting next to the so-called PoK president, whom he obviously did not even recognise.What he did have objection to, however, was the hug that Navjot gave to the Pakistani Army Chief, who was responsible for the large number of soldiers India is losing every day in Kashmir. This act was totally unacceptable, he added. Had he been in a similar situation, he would have turned his back to the Pak General, just as he had done with Canadian minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, said Captain Amarinder Singh.