Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Sunday declared he and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal were ready to sacrifice their lives for defending the cause of peace and communal harmony in the state. Addressing the party’s ‘Pol Khol’ rally in Faridkot, Badal claimed he had been informed that a Sikh radical had been nabbed with a pistol meant to kill him and his son at the rally.
“I and my son Sukhbir are ready to sacrifice our lives for defending the cause of peace and communal harmony in the state,” Badal said. “But we neither frightened others nor are we going to be frightened or daunted by such reports or threats,” he added.
The former chief minister said ‘Khalsa Panth’ represents a history of sacrifices for upholding the values of peace and communal harmony as enshrined in the teachings of “our great Gurus”. Notably, on Friday, the district administration of Faridkot had denied Akali Dal permission to hold a Pol Khol rally, citing apprehension of violence.
The police had said it apprehended there could be violence between Akali workers and some radical Sikhs protesting at Bargari, about 40 km from the venue. SAD had later moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which granted it permission to hold the rally.
After Justice Ranjit Singh Commission’s report on sacrilege incidents in 2015 (when SAD-BJP was in power) was made public recently, Congress has stepped up the attack on the Akalis.
Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu had Friday approached the Akal Takht seeking excommunication of Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal from the Sikh faith over their alleged involvement in the police firing on protesters in 2015.
Addressing the gathering here, Badal alleged that the Congress was in collusion with the forces that had already put Punjab through a period of turmoil, violence and bloodshed.
Speaking at the rally, Sukhbir Singh Badal accused radical Sikh preachers Baljit Singh Daduwal and Dhian Singh Mand of being “Congress puppets”. Parkash Singh Badal said: “It is the same old nexus between the Congress and some elements rejected by the ‘Khalsa Panth’..”.
“The Congress’ objective is to fulfil its old dream of grabbing control of the Sikh shrines and historic religious institutions. The main target is the SGPC. The Congress knows that it cannot achieve that openly..that is why they are using these so-called Panthic outfits as their front men. They have tried this ploy before. But failure has not taught them any lessons,” the Akali Dal patriarch said.
Parkash Singh Badal warned that “the Congress collusion with these forces could set Punjab on fire again as it had done in the eighties”.
He claimed that the Congress government’s agenda was to divert peoples attention “from its shocking failure to fulfil its promises and meeting the expectations of the people”.
Badal also launched an attack on the Congress by invoking the incidents of 1984 anti-Sikh riots and Operation Bluestar in 1984, an operation carried out to flush out the militants hiding inside the Golden Temple complex.
Referring to permission granted to hold the rally here, Badal thanked the high court for “saving” democracy.
“The High Court order is a victory of democracy and defeat of dictatorial and feudal forces,” he said. Earlier, Sukhbir Badal took a dig at chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, saying “he has proved to be a good for nothing”.
The SAD chief said while Parkash Singh Badal was a leader of the masses who had always stood for the cause of the poor, Capt Amarinder Singh and other Congress leaders had used some words to belittle the Akali stalwart.
Former BJP president Rajinder Bhandari, who also spoke on the occasion, said the SAD- BJP alliance was permanent and stood for peace and communal harmony as well as prosperity of Punjab.