AMRITSAR, December 10: Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Capt Amarinder Singh today warned the Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal against instigating people to violence during elections. At the same time, he said, the Election Commission of India was closely monitoring the situation and adequate security measures were being taken to prevent any mischief by the Akalis.
He also condemned the collapse of the government in the state as Amritsar remained cut off from rest of the country due to the farmers’ blockade of the Amritsar-Delhi highway for the fourth consecutive day today.
Addressing a function organised to honour senior party leader Mr Raghunandan Lal Bhatia, Capt Amarinder lauded his great contribution to the party. He also recalled his association with Mr Bhatia when way back in 1980 they were both together in the Parliament. He pointed out, Mr Bhatia had served in various capacities for the party including six times MP, as PCC President, Minister of State for External Affairs, twice Governor (of Kerala and Bihar) as also the Chairman of the Shipping Corporation of India.
Referring to Sukhbir’s recent statements instigating people to violence, Capt Amarinder warned him, “if you try to hit the Congressmen once, they will hit you back not once, not twice but thrice”. He said, “let me tell him that Congress workers will not tolerate any violence anymore and enough is enough”. At the same time, he made it clear that Congress workers will not initiate any violence as they don’t need to, since they know they are winning. “But they will not take it lying down and will defend themselves”, he warned.
The PCC President said, these were the signs of frustration and desperation as the Akalis had realised the ground slipping beneath their feet. “Their countdown has already started and they will realise where they stand the moment the code of conduct comes into force”, he said.
Later replying to a question about the possible misuse of police by the ruling alliance, Capt Amarinder said, the entire police force right from the constabulary to senior officers were with the Congress. He said, they were upset with this government. “I trust my police and I have full faith in them”, he said.
Capt Amarinder asked Mr Badal to tell to the people of Punjab one reason that he deserved the Panth Rattan award. He pointed out, there were other great men like Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Baba Kharak Singh and Master Tara Singh who deserved it more than anybody else. “Badal’s only contribution was to divide Punjab into small pieces and give away precious resources in bargain just to become Chief Minister himself”, he observed.
Referring to the claims of the government of having set up Sikh memorials, the PCC President said, these were mostly incomplete and had been locked immediately after inauguration just to ensure that people do not know that they played fraud. He asked Mr Badal as what was his contribution in building the Khalsa Heritage Complex as it was he (Capt Amarinder) who had got Rs 300 crore sanctioned from the government of India first during the government of Mr Vajapyee which gave Rs 50 crore of which Akalis embezzled five crore and Rs 250 crores during the time of Dr Manmohan Singh.
He pointed out, this government had failed to utilise Rs 5000 crore provided by the Prime Minister for Amritsar’s development under Jawahar Lal National Urban Renewal Mission as it could not provide the matching grants since the money was being squandered away by Mr Badal in his sangat darshans only.
Speaking on the occasion, the Congress incharge for Punjab Thakur Gulchain Singh Charak said, leaders like Mr Bhatia were an asset to the party whose experience can always be utilised by the party. He said, the party will always remember their contribution and gain from their experience.
The Congress Legislative Party leader Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also paid rich tributes to the services of Mr Bhatia rendered to the party. She said, she had a long association with Mr Bhatia and had always learnt from her experience.
Others present on the occasion included former PCC President Shamsher Singh Dullon, Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa, Chairman PCC Exservicemen Cell Laly Jawandha, PCC vice president, Ashwani Sekhri, DCC Amritsar rural and urban presidents Harpartap Ajnala and Jugal Kishore Sharma, Rajkumar Verka, Darbari Lal, Sukh Sarkaria, Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Karanpal Sekhon, Major Amardeep, Gurjeet Aujla, Lali Majithia, Harpal Bhatia, Navdeep Singh Goldy, Ms Mamta Datti and others.