Congress’ final push to turn sacrilege heat on Akali Dal
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.