Congress’ fi­nal push to turn sac­ri­lege heat on Akali Dal

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - Punjab - Gur­preet Singh Nib­ber gur­preet.nib­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

IS­SUE HAD FOUND A WIDE­SPREAD RES­O­NANCE DUR­ING THE 2017 ASSEM­BLY POLLS WHEN THE PARTY FORMED GOV­ERN­MENT

CHANDI­GARH: In a last-ditch at­tempt to make the is­sue of sac­ri­lege a de­ci­sive fac­tor on the polling day in Pun­jab, the Congress has ar­ranged a rally of party pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi in Bar­gari, the epi­cen­tre of the in­ci­dents of des­e­cra­tion of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015.

The is­sue had found a wide­spread res­o­nance dur­ing the 2017 assem­bly polls when the party formed gov­ern­ment. “Why can­not we hold a rally in Bar­gari when they (Akali-BJP) rake up the is­sue of the 1984 ri­ots from time to time? Rahul Gandhi will raise the is­sue ef­fec­tively,” said a Congress leader.With five days left for the vot­ing, the is­sue is al­ready at the po­lit­i­cal cen­trestage.

Can­di­dates of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties, in­clud­ing the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), SAD (Tak­sali), Pun­jabi Ekta Party (PEP)-led Pun­jab Demo­cratic Al­liance (PDA) are rais­ing a bo­gey over the is­sue, with the Akali-BJP com­bine on the back­foot.

The is­sue may not find much res­o­nance in the par­lia­men­tary seg­ments in the Doaba belt, but it is turn­ing out to be a ma­jor poll plank against the Akali-BJP can­di­dates in Malwa, with a vis­i­ble im­pact in Bathinda, the Badals’ bas­tion where Har­sim­rat Kaur Badal faces back­lash be­sides Farid­kot, San­grur, Pa­tiala, Fate­hgarh Sahib, Lud­hi­ana and Anand­pur Sahib.Also, the im­pact is pal­pa­ble in ru­ral pockets of Am­rit­sar and Khadoor Sahib – two con­stituen­cies in the Ma­jha belt.At her rally in Bathinda on Tues­day, Congress gen­eral sec­re­tary Priyanka Gandhi also raised the is­sue say­ing that Pun­jabis and Sikhs are soul­less with­out Guru Granth Sahib.

“How can we for­get it? Our Guru was des­e­crated. I will vote keep­ing the is­sue on mind,” said Natha Singh of Burj Jawa­har Singh­wala vil­lage in Farid­kot.

In Bar­gari and Be­hbal Kalan, the lo­cal res­i­dents are an­gry over the fact their towns are now as­so­ci­ated with sac­ri­lege of Guru Granth Sahib.

In the Ferozpur con­stituency, SAD pres­i­dent Sukhbir Badal is con­fi­dent of pulling out a vic­tory.

Re­al­is­ing that the sac­ri­lege is hurt­ing their prospects in the on­go­ing polls, the Akali-BJP can­di­dates are coun­ter­ing it by terming as false the vow that Amarinder Singh took in 2016 on gutka to break the drug car­tel in Pun­jab in four weeks af­ter tak­ing over as chief min­is­ter, say­ing he would face the Guru’s wrath. “Those politi­cis­ing des­e­cra­tion will face the Guru’s wrath,” Sukhbir says.

Rahul Gandhi

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