THE SHIROMANI Akali Dal (SAD) Friday launched a sharp attack on the Congress ranks in the Vidhan Sabha on the issue of Kamal Nath being chosen as the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister designate, saying that the Congress was “rubbing salt into the wounds of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.”
The issue was first raised by Bikram Singh Majithia during the calling attention motion on a different issue and it soon snowballed with the SAD President, Sukhbir Singh Badal, also taking on the treasury benches. It was left to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra to tackle the Akali onslaught with most of the Congress MLAs watching on and later the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh also made a statement defending Kamal Nath.
Why Kamal Nath makes Punjab see red
Although absolved by the Nanavati Commission over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Kamal Nath continues to evoke anger in Punjab. In June 2016, he stepped down as the AICC general secretary in-charge of then poll-bound Punjab three days after he was given charge of the state as AAP and SAD kicked up a furore. At that time too, Amarinder had come to his defence. The party replaced Kamal Nath with Asha Kumari.
Responding to Majithia’s comments, Brahm Mohindra said there was no mention of Kamal Nath’s name in any FIR pertaining to the 1984 riots. “After 1984 he has been elected eight times as MP and this issue was never raised. He has thrice been cabinet minister, including the Manmohan Singh government. I have photographs of Parkash Singh Badal meeting Kamal Nath and giving him bouquets. There was no hand of Kamal Nath in 1984 riots,” he said.
Amarinder reiterated that Kamal Nath had been a Member of Parliament for long. “He was a minister for more than 10 years. No one said at the time why he was sitting there. Let us leave these things to the law. Law will take its course. If someone is guilty he is guilty if he is not guilty he is not guilty. Now if there has been a reference in the Nanavaty Commission you cannot assume that a person is guilty. I would request the opposition members that let us give an opportunity for the law to take its course,” he said.
Responding to Amarinder’s statement, Sukhbir Badal said that the law had been suppressed in many 1984 riot cases. “I want to give an example about how the law was suppressed. Just hear me out for five minutes. There are two recent convictions of 1984 riot cases in which one has been sentenced to death and another to life imprisonment. The case had been lingering for long. It was opened and closed five times. After Narendra Modi became Prime Minister he formed an SIT after we approached him. It is trough that SIT investigation was done and in two years the judgement has come from a fast track court. This is how cases were suppressed before justice could be done,” he said.
Sensing an opportunity to embarrass Congress ranks, Sukhbir Singh Badal immediately targeted Ranja Sodhi saying, “Tytler and Sajjan Kumar case is in final stages of prosecution. Any day you will hear good news. Just tell me Ranaji if Tytler did it (took part in anti-Sikh riots) or not. Tell me”.
At this point Brahm Mohindra again intervened and said five non-Congress Prime Ministers were in power after 1984 including those with whom Akalis were in alliance.