Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday declared the Badals would not succeed in washing their tainted hands off the Bargari and other sacrilege cases with their desperate attempts to seize the limelight in the historic 550th Prakash Purb celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji.Evidently the Badals had not learnt any lessons from their total rejection by the Sikh community for their failure to prevent the various cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib ji, as well as firing and killing of peaceful Sikh protestors under their watch, said the Chief Minister, in an informal chat with mediapersons after attending the swearing-in ceremony of the newly elected MLAs here at the Vidhan Sabha this morning.Pointing out that the Akalis had been rejected by the Sikh Sangat in every election in the last three years, Captain Amarinder noted that Harsimrat Badal had barely managed to scrape through in the recent Parliamentary elections. The people had seen through their gimmicks and frustrated attempts to exploit religion for petty political gains, he added.It was unfortunate that the Akalis, under Sukhbir Badal and his wife & union minister Harsimrat Badal, were trying to divide the Sikh community while celebrating the biggest unifier the world had seen in Guru Nanak, who worked for Inter-Faith harmony and dialogue, said the Chief Minister.
Captain Amarinder also lashed out at the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) for making a virtual mockery of the historic 550th Prakash Purb celebrations by playing into the hands of the Badals. Such major events had always, traditionally, been celebrated under the aegis of the state government, but the SGPC, at the behest of the Akalis, had refused to support his government’s programmes this time, said the Chief Minister. He recalled that even the 400 years of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were celebrated by the state government under his last tenure, as were all other such historic religious events. His government, said Captain Amarinder, had reached out in all possible ways to the SGPC to facilitate joint celebrations, but the religious body was clearly working on the Akali agenda in the matter.Reacting to SGPC charges of inadequate efforts by the state government to ensure befitting celebration of the occasion, the Chief Minister said all preparations for the grand celebration were in place, and Punjab was fully geared up to make this joyous occasion a lifetime experience for the pilgrims.The Chief Minister, in response to a question, reiterated the need for caution against Pakistan’s nefarious designs, as evident in the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and other recent initiatives of their government to mark the 550th Prakash Purb. The Sikh community had been asking for opening of the passage to the sacred Kartarpur shrine for the past 70 years but Pakistan’s sudden decision to accept the demand indicated an ulterior motive, aimed at putting a wedge between the Sikh community by exploiting their religious sentiments, he added.
While he did not expect Pakistan to dare to do any mischief through the Corridor, it was important, as a border state, for Punjab to remain on alert, said the Chief Minister. The state was keeping close tabs on the situation and was maintaining heightened alert, he added.On the issue of finding a lasting solution to paddy straw burning, the Chief Minister lamented the Modi Government's apathetic attitude, and reiterated that that ball was in the Centre's court and it should take concrete decisions to resolve the problem. He also underlined the need for financial assistance to the farmers to wean them away from the hazardous practice of stubble burning, pointing out that 75% of Punjab’s farmers had land holdings of less than 2 acres and it was not viable for them to manage the paddy straw scientifically.Congratulating the newly elected Congress MLAs, Captain Amarinder exhorted them to work assiduously in taking forward the state government's pro-people initiatives and policies to the doorsteps of the citizens.It may be noted that under Captain Amarinder Singh's leadership, the strength of Congress has gone up further in the Vidhan Sabha, with treasury benches now ensconced in 80 out of the 117 seats. Earlier, Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh administered the oath of office and secrecy to three newly elected legislators Raminder Singh Awla (Jalalabad), Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal (Phagwara) and Indu Bala, who had won from Mukerian in the recent by-elections. Besides Chief Minister's Media Advisor Raveen Thukral and PPCC President Sunil Jakhar, the swearing-in ceremony was attended by Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, Industry Minister Sunder Sham Arora, MLAs Sangat Singh Gilzian, Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Pawan Kumar Adhian and Chairman SS Board Raman Behal. The family members of the newly elected MLAs were also present on the occasion.