AT THE centre of a controversy that has refused to die despite an apology offered by Ashish Khetan Tuesday, senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Supreme Court advocate H S Phoolka has decided to visit the Golden Temple and apologize for ‘broom’ on picture of Sikhs’ highest shrine on the party’s youth manifesto.
Announcing this through a public video that ‘this action has received negative feedback from all the corners’, Phoolka said he would visit Golden Temple and ‘apologise under Sikh maryada’.
Later, Phoolka told The Indian Express that he had taken this decision “in consultation with party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal.”
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“I have already informed Arvind Kejriwal about it. I told him that this time apology is due on our side as we have committed a mistake. He asked me to ahead and apologise at the Golden Temple personally. My apology will be on the behalf of Aam Aadmi Party,” said Phoolka.
Asked about apology offered by AAP leader Ashish Khetan on Tuesday, Phoolka said, “He is a former journalist and apologised in front of the media, which was (the) right (move). But I, being a Sikh, owe a personal apology to my Gurus for which I will visit Golden Temple.”
Phoolka said, “Placing broom on manifesto and also using photograph of the Golden Temple on a party document was an unintentional mistake by the party’s Delhi team.”
“Our Delhi team, which designed and prepared the document, never meant to disrespect Golden Temple. I would say that it was lack of knowledge on how sensitive this matter is… to use Golden Temple photograph. They, in fact, wanted to highlight the shrine as the most respectable but it backfired. It was lack of sensitivity and we should not have done this,” said Phoolka.
“I was not part of this manifesto committee or related with entire functioning of preparing it in any way. But I am a party member and it is my duty to apologise on behalf of AAP,” said Phoolka.
Asked if other AAP leaders from Punjab would be accompanying him, Phoolka said, “I have given a call to everyone through this video. Let’s see who all join in.”
In his video message, Phoolka giving a call to AAP volunteers to join him, says, “Since youth manifesto was released, I got calls from volunteers across India and even Canada, UK, US etc that AAP should not have used Golden Temple photo. On the top of it, broom was a blunder. We cannot even think of disrespecting Sri Harmandir Sahib in our dreams but this unintentional mistake has happened. Our Delhi team did not know much about it and they have apologised. But I have decided to go there personally and apologise to my Gurus. I appeal to all AAP volunteers to join me.”
There has been an uproar over Khetan allegedly comparing manifesto to the Guru Granth Sahib and the Bhagavad Gita and party using their symbol ‘broom’ placed on photo of Golden Temple on manifesto’s cover page.
Meanwhile,. suspended AAP MP Harinder Singh Khalsa from Fatehgarh Sahib Wednesday said, “AAP should stop claiming to be a secular party.”
“Kejriwal claims that AAP is a secular party. Then why was only a picture of Golden Temple used on its manifesto? Why not of temple, mosque and churches? Wasn’t it a gimmick to woo Sikhs? Then Kejriwal says that AAP does not play politics over religion. Then why they used photo of a religious shrine at all?,” said Khalsa.