Chandigarh, May 18, 2019-
The guilty of both the Gujarat riots in 2002 and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 should be punished, Akali Dal patron and five-time Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said on Saturday.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, by touching his feet, has sought blessings not only from him but from the Punjabis and Sikhs all over the world.
In a conversation a day ahead of the polls for 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, the senior Badal, country’s oldest politician — next only to BJP veteran L.K. Advani — told it made him feel very humble when Modi touched his feet ahead of filing his nomination papers in Varanasi.
“Modi sahib took me by surprise. But as I see it he sought blessings not from me personally but from Punjabis and Sikhs all over the world.”
And did he give his blessings to Modi, he replied: “Yes.”
“He has my best wishes and blessings of all Punjabis for what he did for opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, punishment to Sajjan Kumar and other guilty of the 1984 massacre, abolishing the blacklists of Sikhs abroad and release of liberal funds in hundreds of crores for Guru Sahib’s ‘shatabadi’ (550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.”
Badal, 91, said he wants the guilty of both the Gujarat riots and the anti-Sikh riots should be punished.
“No one has ever justified the Gujarat riots. No one said after the Gujarat riots that it was like shaking of the earth after the fall of a big tree. But from Rajiv Gandhi to Congress leaders, they have always justified the anti-Sikh riots.”
When asked that for the Akali Dal, a BJP alliance partner, the sacrilege cases in Punjab are no more an issue in the state elections but Balakot air strikes are, he replied: “Sacrilege hurts every devout Sikh. But equally hurtful and sacrilegious is the Congress using money power to buy some stooges in the so-called ‘Bargari morcha’. Sikhs will reject this misuse of their religion.”
Two people were killed and many others injured in Behbal Kalan village on October 15, 2015, when police resorted to unprovoked firing on hundreds of people protesting the alleged desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Bargari village in Faridkot days ago.
The incident came a day after police used force to disperse agitators in Kotkapura village. At that time the Akali Dal-BJP combine government was in power in the state.
When asked that in October 2015, Modi had called him India’s Nelson Mandela and that now he compared Modi with former US President Abraham Lincoln, he said: “Lots of people have referred to me as Nelson Mandela even before because of the years I spent in jail fighting for democracy, civil liberties and peace and reconciliation in Punjab.”
“I don’t believe I can be compared with a great man like Mandela. As for Modi sahib, I compared him with Abraham Lincoln and I spoke from the core of my heart. Nothing political about it.”
In this electoral battleground, Badal’s daughter-in-law who is also Union Minister, Harsimrat Kaur, is locked in a multi-cornered contest from the Akali Dal’s pocket borough Bathinda from where she has won twice. So is his former Deputy Chief Minister son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is in the fray from Ferozepur.
Believing that both Sukhbir and Harsimrat will win handsomely, he said: “No doubt about that. The results will stun the Congress. It can be a sweep 13-0 for the SAD-BJP,” Badal senior added.
For the rout of the Congress, he blamed the total neglect of governance, stoppage of all welfare and development initiatives by the Captain Amarinder Singh government.
The other issue is that the country needs a strong Prime Minister to ensure peace with neighbours, a confident Badal, who has never said he will not contest the next election, said.
The Congress, which was out of power in Punjab for a decade (2007-17), got 77 seats in the February 2017 Assembly elections after drubbing the Akali Dal-BJP combine.
The Congress tally increased to 78 after win in Shahkot by-election in May 2018, giving the party a two-third majority in the House.
Out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, the Akali Dal-BJP combine currently holds five (four Akali Dal; one of BJP), while the Congress has four seats and AAP another four. (Agency)