Wednesday, August 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NDA, SAD give oust-Cong call
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Interestingly, it was for the first time that two parallel functions were held to pay tributes to one of the architects of the Rajiv-Longowal accord. The second function, a state function, was attended among others by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, the Lok Bhalai Party chief, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, Mrs Parneet Kaur, MP, and several members of the Punjab Council of Ministers. It was at this function that Mrs Shyam Kaur, a sister of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, was felicitated and presented a cheque for Rs 1 lakh on the occasion. The Punjab Government also promised jobs to five kin of Sant Longowal, who were present at the function. Interestingly, the Punjab Agriculture Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who belongs to Sangrur and represents the Malwa belt in the Council of Ministers, was absent.

Longowal (Sangrur), August 20
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) today endorsed the call given by the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for rooting out Congress government from Punjab for its “repressive and vindictive policies” besides accepting Sant Harchand Singh Longowal as a national martyr.

Participating in the 17th “shaheedi conference” organised by the SAD, the Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, and the national General Secretary of the BJP, Mr Arun Jaitley, reiterated here that the “repression and terror let loose by the Congress government in Punjab” would not be tolerated and the NDA and the BJP stood by the SAD on the issue.

Their views were corroborated by the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Shahnawaz Hussain and the Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister, Ms Uma Bharati. Later, the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, gave a call to the people of Punjab for “starting a movement against the anti-people Congress government in the state”.

Others who addressed the shaheedi conference included the Union Chemical and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, the SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, the Punjab BJP chief, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, and several other senior SAD leaders, including Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, Mr Baldev Singh Mann, Mr Gagandeep Singh Barnala and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, besides Mr Onkar Singh Thapar of Delhi.

The tone and tenor of speeches at the SAD ‘shaheedi conference’ were directed against the Congress government where speaker after speaker blamed the ruling party for the “betrayal that led to his assassination”.

The Sant, the speakers held, throughout fought the anti-Punjab and repressive policies of the Congress government at the Centre. It was he who led the peaceful morcha against Emergency in the country. Later, it was Sant Longowal who was made Dictator of the Dharam Yudh Morcha after the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi, travelled to Kapuri to formally launch the digging of Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal.

They held that it was paradoxical that the Congress which always, betrayed the Sant had now realised its folly and decided to organise a state-level function not only out of any love for the slain Akali leader but “as a cheap political gimmick”.

“If the Congress was so sincere, it could not have backtracked at the last minute on the Rajiv-Longowal accord by not transferring Chandigarh to Punjab on Republic Day as had been promised,” the speakers said.

This sleepy town on outskirts of Sangrur woke up today to police and other vehicles carrying supporters of both SAD and Congress to the great disbelief of the residents here.

Mr Arun Jaitley said the Congress by its decision to hold a parallel function here had “at last honoured the political values that Sant Harchand Singh Longowal cherished”.

“Throughout he fought the Congress policies. He was the morcha dictator against the imposition of Emergency. When he was alive he was subjected to all kinds of rigours, including imprisonment. Even after signing the accord with him, the Congress backed out which probably led to his assassination. He died for the national unity and integrity. The Congress should have tendered a public apology for what it had done to him. By organising a function it has rectified its stand on him today,” said Mr Jaitley.

Mr George Fernandes said the contribution of the Sikhs in the national freedom struggle and even after Independence were unprecedented and the NDA was feeling concerned at the “repressive and vindictive policies of the present Congress government in the state”.

The NDA would do everything possible to stand by its long time alliance partner in Punjab besides promising full compensation to all those truckers who lost their vehicles in a devastating fire in Rajasthan while carrying defence supplies.

Mr Shahnawaz Hussain and Ms Uma Bharti also lashed out at the Congress for its anti-people and the Opposition-bashing policy declaring that the BJP and the NDA were fully with the Akalis and the Punjab unit of the BJP.

Mr Badal said it was Sant Longowal who supervised the biggest morcha in the country after Independence to fight against the imposition of Emergency in the country. Holding the Congress responsible for his assassination, Mr Badal said the Congress-ruled Centre had betrayed this great nationalist who made the supreme sacrifice of his life. Describing the holding of state-level function at the adjoining ground as a mere drama, he said if the state government was so serious, it could have planned the function by giving adequate notice to everyone.

“Even Indira Gandhi could not finish us. So what is he compared to her,” he said amidst shouting of slogans. He gave a call to the people of Punjab to start a movement against the “anti-people Congress government in the state”.Back


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