The two Congressmen — Khadoor Sahib MLA Ramajit Singh Sikki and Kisan Cell chief Inderjit Singh Zira — who participated in the Sarbat Khalsa have sparked off a row within the party, with its leaders unable to fathom the future course of action.
The two men are also from different factions in the party.
While Sikki is a Capt Amarinder Singh loyalist, Zira owes allegiance to the party president Partap Singh Bajwa camp.
Zira had been hand-picked by Bajwa from SAD to be the party Kisan Cell chief.
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Sources close to Bajwa said he has left it to the Congress high command in Delhi to decide on Sikki and Zira’s fate.
They added that he did not want to take any action against Sikki as it could be perceived as a “witch-hunt”, especially in the wake of AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s recent advice, urging party leaders to bury their differences among themselves.
“Since the Congress is a secular party, its members could not be seen at an event that was not secular in nature. The issue was discussed by the party president with seniors in Delhi. Bajwa is leaving for Delhi on Saturday and he would personally discuss the matter with the senior leaders. Since SAD and BJP have made an issue out of their presence at the event, the party high command would be required to be in the picture,” said sources close to Bajwa.
Sikki, meanwhile, defended himself, saying he was at the congregation to put forward the Congress’ views and that he was able to do it successfully. “I as a devout Sikh do not need anybody’s permission to attend a religious congregation of my community. I will not tolerate anybody trying to interfere with what I do about my faith and religion,” he said in a statement issued here on Thursday.
“The Sarbat Khalsa was open to everyone irrespective of the political party they belonged to. Just because leaders belonging to the ruling Akali-BJP alliance did not have the courage to attend, does not mean those belonging to the Congress should not have attended it either,” he asserted.
“I made the secular stand of the party categorically clear there”, he said, adding, “I also appealed for peace and communal harmony and warned that there must not be any breach of trust between different communities and castes in Punjab”.