Flaying SAD president and Ferozepur MP Sukhbir Singh Badal for unleashing “brazen falsehoods” on the eve of Rajiv Gandhi’s 75th birth anniversary, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder on Monday said it was “a conspiracy to incite and divide the Sikh community by defaming the late former Prime Minister”.
The CM said: “The former Prime Minister’s name never came up during or after the 1984 riots, and was being propped by the BJP and the Akalis in a desperate bid to garner Sikh votes….By repeatedly lying about the issue, they have been trying to manipulate the facts, which clearly showed that Rajiv was in no way complicit in the events that followed the tragic assassination of his mother, then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1984,” said the Chief Minister.
Amarinder said: “Akalis claim to be protectors of the Sikh community, but did nothing for Sikhs during 10 years of ruling the state.” He added that “under their (BJP-SAD) regime, Punjab witnessed some of the worst incidents of sacrilege, which they did nothing to either prevent or solve. The attack on Rajiv just ahead of his birth anniversary was just another attempt by the Akalis to cover up their own acts of omission and commission.”
CM also cornered the Akalis over their “support to the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, in shameful violation of the very principles on which the Anandpur Sahib resolution was founded”. Pointing out that the Anandpur Sahib resolution had advocated more powers to the states, with a stronger federal structure for the nation, Captain said, “By backing the Kashmir developments, they (Akalis) had made it clear that they had no respect for the country’s federal structure and its Constitutional philosophy.”
“With Prakash Singh Badal maintaining a studied silence on the issue, nobody really knew what the stand of the Akalis is now on the Anandpur Sahib resolution,” said the CM, asking Sukhbir to clarify the same.
In the evening, Sukhbir tweeted: “After depriving the needy ppl of free med treatment under GOI’s #AyushmanBharat scheme for 1 full year, @capt_Amarinder is now creating hype of its launch in Punjab with a diff name. And for that, he has intentionally chosen birth anniv of #RajivGandhi, culprit of Sikh genocide.”
Punjab Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, when reached for comments, hit back at Sukhbir and said SAD president should “thank and congratulate Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh” for the scheme. “Rajiv Gandhi was our great leader,” he added. About the scheme, Sidhu added, “This is a very good scheme. With cashless treatment, it would be like Canada and America. People will immensely benefit from the scheme.”
Sidhu said Punjab would pay its 40 per cent share of the premium to around 14 lakh families in the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana which is also known as Ayushman Bharat Yojana, which provides for an annual cover of upto Rs 5 lakh for secondary and tertiary treatment to families identified under Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011. In addition, the minister said, the state government would cover lakhs of more beneficiaries in the state taking the total number to over 43 lakh beneficiaries. As per Ayushman Bharat Yojana, the Centre and State are to contribute 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively, to pay the insurance premium.
Sukhbir launches fresh attack
Sukhbir Badal Monday night hit out at Amarinder Singh for launching a health scheme on former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Sukhbir claimed the scheme was nothing but repackaging of the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat scheme.
Blaming the Rajiv Gandhi dispensation for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he tweeted, “It’s you only @capt_amarinder who can suck up to these #Gandhis to come in power but for me, it’s a commitment with the community to ensure every culprit of Sikh massacre is put behind bars.”