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Tuesday, September 22, 1998
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Sonia’s visit to woo Sikhs: Badal
Tribune News Service

SARAN (Amritsar), Sept 21 — Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has alleged that the proposed visit of Mrs Sonia Gandhi,president of the All-India Congress Committee, to the Golden Temple was aimed at "capturing" the votes of Sikhs.

Addressing a rural gathering to mark the sixth death anniversary of Shaheed Makhan Singh, here today, Mr Badal asked Mrs Gandhi to visit the families of those who were killed in the anti-Sikh riots, allegedly engineered by the Congress in 1984 after the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi, if she was really sincere to Punjab and Punjabis. He alleged that the Congress governments had "mothered" terrorism in the past and it claimed a number of innocent lives in the state. He said that the successive Congress government had meted out a step-motherly treatment to Punjab and Punjabis in the past. He added that if the victims of the anti-Sikh riots would forgive Mrs Sonia Gandhi, only then her visit could have positive impact on the hearts of Punjabis in the state.

Earlier addressing a meeting at Batala he lambasted the Congress party for "ruining" socio-economic structure. Mr Badal said that successive Congress governments at the Centre and in the state had done nothing except exploited the people and ruled the country through "divide and rule" policy. He said that there were certain vital issues like unemployment, poverty, economic backwardness and housing problems which were matter of concern for the government. He said that the present government in Punjab had initiated steps for tackling these problems made complex by the previous governments. He said that a great deal had been done to ameliorate the lot of farmers. Scheduled Castes and other vulnerable sections of society by giving them several benefits in a short span of one and half years.

Blaming the Congress for sowing the seeds of communal disharmony Mr Badal said that leadership of this party had been inciting the people through provocative acts for disturbing peaceful atmosphere in the state with the sole aim of keeping itself in power. He said that such divisive forces were still active and cooperation of people was very essential to curb their evil designs.

Mr Badal assured to fulfil all demands put forth by the people of the area. He said that the Punjab government would also take up the case of railway link between Batala and Beas via Qadian for giving boost to industry and trade in the historic town.

Mr Badal said that the Ranjit Sagar (Thein) Dam project, one of the largest multi-purpose river valley projects, under construction on river Ravi would be completed before the paddy sowing season. Apart from this, a thermal plant at Goindwal would also be set up to mark the November Day.

Ridiculing the statement of Mr Amarinder Singh, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, that during her proposed visit to Punjab Mrs Sonia Gandhi would visit the families of those farmers who had committed suicides recently. He said where was she when alleged wrong policies of the Congress had brought the farmers of the country to a point of no return which ultimately forced them to take the drastic step of committing suicides. He further alleged that the Congress was no more a party of common people. It has now become a party of "Maharajas", he said.

BATALA: The government would develop border districts of Gurdaspur and Amritsar as centres for export of vegetables and fruits, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said.

Addressing a function at Achaleshwar Sahib Gurdwara here, he said a demonstration centre for producing vegetables and fruits was being developed at Padri Kalan village in Amritsar in collaboration with Israel.

Mr Badal said the government had already taken up with the Centre the issue of declaring border area as tax holiday zone "and for the purpose I will follow it up with the Prime Minister during the meeting with him in the first week of October," he added.


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