Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has ridiculed Sukhbir Singh Badal for his atrocious statement on the 1984 riots, saying the Akali president had packed his bags and gone to the US for studies when the violence erupted.While he himself had personally witnessed the developments, and had first-hand knowledge of the sequence of events, the Badals had conveniently disappeared from the scene during the turbulent times, said the Chief Minister.Sukhbir’s statements blaming the Gandhis for the riots, with which they were not even remotely connected, were completely baseless and senseless, and a clear case of desperation to get back into the electoral game ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, said Captain Amarinder Singh. He was not even around at the time of the incidents and was dragging the Gandhi family into the case to get his virtually defunct Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) back into public limelight, said the Chief Minister, brushing off with utter disdain Sukhbir’s statement that he (Capt Amarinder) was defending the Gandhis to save his chair.As a duly elected leader of the Congress in Punjab and its unanimously elected chief minister, he had the mandate not only of the people of the state but his party, pointed out the Chief Minister. Unlike the SAD, the Congress functions in a democratic system and not on the whims and fancies of its leadership, said Captain Amarinder Singh, adding that he did not need to indulge in sycophancy to save his chair.
Asserting that he would remain the chief minister for as long as the people of Punjab wanted, and he shared the full confidence of the Congress leadership, Captain Amarinder Singh said his defence of the Gandhi family was out of his personal knowledge, which he had gathered from visiting the various refugee camps in the wake of the riots.While Rajeev Gandhi was out electioneering in West Bengal, Rahul was just a school-going child at the crucial time, and neither had any role to play in the riots, in which a few individual Congress leaders were named by the victims, said the Chief Minister. There were in fact several RSS/BJP workers named in the FIR, to whom Sukhbir had never eluded, clearly suggesting that his concern for the pain suffered by the Sikh community during the riots was mere hogwash, aimed only at garnering votes in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, said Captain Amarinder Singh.Trashing Sukhbir’s allegation that he had been fielded by Rahul to defend the Gandhis and the Congress party, Captain Amarinder said he had been talking on the issue since the time Rahul was just a child. The Gandhis do not need to nominate anyone to defend themselves as there was never any evidence of their complicity in the riots, said the Chief Minister, pointing out that none of the victims had ever blamed the family in the matter.Challenging Sukhbir to come out with even an iota of evidence against the Gandhis or the Congress party as a whole on the issue, Captain Amarinder asked the SAD chief to focus on setting his own house in order if he wanted his party to retain even a semblance of relevance in the upcoming parliamentary elections.