Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday hit out at Akali leaders Harsimrat Badal and Sukhbir Badal for “deliberately putting obstacles” in the way of coordination between the state government and the SGPC for joint celebration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
He also lashed out at Pakistan over the imposition of $20 fee on Indian pilgrims visiting Kartarpur Gurdwara.
Talking to media persons while campaigning for Congress candidate Sandeep Sandhu in the upcoming by-election for this seat, the Chief Minister said three of his Cabinet ministers had met the SGPC representatives this morning and had amicable discussion on the issue.
Also, as advised by the Jathedar, two representatives had been nominated by the state Congress to discuss the matter with the Akal Takht and the SAD and the meetings so far had gone off smoothly, he said.
However, Sukhbir Badal and Harsimrat Kaur were trying to scuttle an amicable settlement of the issue at every step for their political gains, said Amarinder Singh, adding the Akalis had always exploited religion for vested interests.
“What kind of Akalis are they? Definitely not the Taksali Akalis of the founding party,” he said.
The Chief Minister rejected the Akali claims that it was the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) job to conduct the Prakash Purb celebrations, pointing out that their jurisdiction lay only within the holy sanctorum sanctum.
Outside the precincts, it was the government’s prerogative, he added.
Describing the SAD as an “unprincipled party”, he pointed to their double standards on their ties with BJP, against which they were fighting tooth and nail in Haryana while seeking votes for its candidates in Punjab.
This kind of petty politics had alienated them from the people and reduced the Akalis to a non-entity, he said, adding that given the current scenario, he did not see the SAD and the BJP being on one plank in the 2022 Assembly elections in Punjab.
Amarinder Singh also lashed out at Pakistan over the imposition of $20 fee on Indian pilgrims visiting Kartarpur Gurdwara via the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, saying it was tantamount to putting a ticket on visiting the gurdwara.
The Sikh religion propounds ‘khulle darshan’, an ideology that Pakistan seemed bent on violating, he said.
To a question on the final programme with regard to the Kartarpur Corridor inauguration, the Chief Minister said that was being worked out with Islamabad by the Central government.
His government, he said, was working closely with the Centre to ensure that all infrastructural and other works for the historic event are completed well in time.
He hoped that Pakistan too would meet its promised deadline to make the 550th Prakash Purb truly historic for the Sikh community.
The Chief Minister agreed Pakistan was making all-out efforts to revive terrorism in Punjab, by pushing in weapons and militants, especially after the developments in Kashmir, but asserted that his government was fully prepared to tackle the threat.
The security forces were fully alert and geared to meet any eventuality, and the state was not facing any law and order issue, he said in response to a question.