Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused the Congress of insulting those killed in the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy by “boycotting” the official function organised by the Union government at Amritsar on Saturday. “Our neighbour and the entire country was paying tributes to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh, but Congress played politics on this sensitive occasion as well,’’ he said.
Pointing out that Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu visited the official function to pay tributes to the victims of the tragedy, he said at a rally in Kathua, “Congress Chief Minister was missing in this official function. He boycotted the official function as he was busy showing his loyalty towards the Family’’ — an apparent reference to the Gandhi family.
The Union Culture Ministry had organised a programme to mark 100 years of the tragedy. Vice-president Naidu, accompanied by Governor V P Singh Badnore, attended the event. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s media advisor Raveen Thukral later said Singh “could not attend the event due to other commitments” and that he participated in the event organised by the state government in the morning.
“I know Captain Amarinder Singh for long and I have never raised questions over his nationalism. I can understand what kind of pressure may have been on him to make him show this loyalty. Punjab mein kis parkar ke dao pech chalaye ja raahey hein, uski wajah se Captain Amarinder singh ko jhukna pad gaya (Such tricks are being employed in Punjab, Amarinder Singh had to bow down due to them),’’ the Prime Minister added.
Amarinder hit back, accusing the Prime Minister of resorting to “dirty politics”.
He alleged that the central government deliberately chose to hold a “parallel event” instead of supporting the initiatives and programmes of the Punjab government.
Amarinder said he had personally approached the Prime Minister several times over the last two years to seek support for ensuring that the occasion was commemorated in a befitting manner, but the Centre “did not respond suitably”. “Instead, the Modi government decided to hold its own event, quite evidently to score political brownie points against the backdrop of the Lok Sabha elections. This was truly shocking, considering that the Prime Minister is the chairman of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust,” he said.
“Shocked at your remarks in Kathua on Jallianwala Bagh @narendramodi Ji. You used a sombre occasion to play dirty politics, conveniently ignoring your own government’s decision to hold a parallel event instead of extending support to my govt, which we’d been requesting for 2 yrs,” Singh tweeted.
“Unlike the BJP, the Congress leadership does not believe in dictating terms to its state governments,” Amarinder said, countering Modi’s claim that he did not attend the event under pressure from the Congress high command. “These things happen in the BJP, which you, Mr Modi, are running in your typical dictatorial style,” he said. The Punjab chief minister said it did not behove a Prime Minister to “stoop so low” to woo voters.