May Day turned out to be a day of protests by political parties in Punjab, with both the ruling camp and the opposition gunning for each other from a safe social distance. While ruling Congress hoisted national flags to protest against the “discriminatory” attitude of the Centre for not helping the state amid COVID-19 crisis, BJP leaders observed fast at their homes to protest against discriminatory “distribution of ration by Congress government in Punjab”.
The AAP leaders sat on a silent dharna outside their homes between 12 noon and 1 pm to protest against Punjab government not releasing Rs 50 lakh compensation to kin of PRTC driver Manjit Singh, who died en route to Nanded to ferry stranded pilgrims back.
While Akali Dal stayed away from protests, party president Sukhbir Singh Badal later took on the government for “misusing” national flag.
CM backs Jakhar’s call
PPCC president Sunil Kumar Jakhar had given a call to fellow Congressmen to hoist national flag to ensure that the voice of Punjab reaches the Centre. Unlike last time, when Jakhar’s call for raising mass slogans, did not get his party government’s support, this time CM Amarinder Singh also hoisted the Tricolour and uploaded a video on his social media platforms and asked all parties to come up together in this fight against COVID-19 instead of playing politics.
Jakhar, himself, hoisted the Tricolour from his Delhi residence and said, “While Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s government was putting up a fight against COVID-19, the attitude of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was constantly discriminatory towards Punjab and instead of providing any financial assistance to the state, the Union government was not giving Punjab its due.”
Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu was seen hoisting the flag with a number of supporters.While he maintained social distance, the curfew didn’t seem to matter. In some parts, the Congress workers said they had problem procuring the Tricolours due to lockdown. A few went a step ahead and got these stitched while others used paper flags. “We had asked the workers to use any colour and make their own Tricolour. Even the one with crayons was enough,” said a party leader.
BJP hits back
BJP state chief Ashwani Sharma said though the BJP was with Congress in this fight against contagion, the state government must answer why it had not distributed the ration sent by the Centre to 1.42 crore people. Jakhar had been asking the BJP to check their figures, claiming that “Centre had not helped Punjab despite it asking for financial help”.
AAP’s silent protest
AAP’s state unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann said party volunteers held a silent protest outside their homes carrying placards — “Main Bhi Manjit Singh Haan” — to wake up the government. He said the announcement of financial aid of Rs 10 lakh made by the government was a cruel joke with thousands of the frontline corona warriors, including doctors, nurses, sanitation staff, police personnel and other essential services staff in the state. The AAP MP accused the Amarinder Singh government of backtracking on the promise of granting a financial aid of Rs 50 lakh to those fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines.
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