M A I N   N E W S

Ruckus in Punjab House over memorial
Cong legislators ask ruling alliance to clear stand on twin issues of memorial, Rajoana
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Badal on Bluestar memorial

The monument would be a gurdwara where the holy Guru Granth Sahib would be placed. The gurdwara, bereft of any photographs, would come up in the Darbar Sahib complex. It would be a symbol of peace and universal brotherhood

Chandigarh, June 21
The Punjab Congress today forced two adjournments in the Assembly, asking the ruling SAD-BJP combine to clarify its stand on the issue of raising a memorial for those killed in Operation Bluestar in 1984 and ‘honouring’ ex-CM Beant Singh’s assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana.

Replying to the Congress demand, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said a “small” gurdwara would come up in the Darbar Sahib complex. The gurdwara, bereft of any photographs, would be a symbol of peace and universal brotherhood, said Badal.

The BJP, however, struck a discordant note on the Rajoana issue with its Health Minister Madan Mohan Mittal saying that no “murderer” could be termed as a martyr.

The trouble began when Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar stood up during Zero Hour waving copies of an article written by eminent columnist Kuldeep Nayar in English, Punjabi and Hindi dailies.

Jakhar said the situation in the state was grim on all fronts. Jakhar claimed the article stated that when the Akalis were out of power they indulged in dharma morchas which evoked religious passions. “They (Akalis) are adopting the same tactics now while being in the position of authority. It means they want to divert people’s attention from problems like unemployment, drug trafficking and reducing income of farmers,” said Jakhar.

The CLP leader said the people had faith in Badal because he represented the secular face of the Akalis. But the Chief Minister was resorting to a balancing act now to appease the hardliners and ensure they were not offended by the recent social engineering exercise of the SAD, alleged Jakhar. He sought a statement from the government on raising of the Bluestar memorial.

The CM, too, was quick on his feet, saying though he did not expect the Leader of the Opposition to say anything that would create disharmony, he was ready to give a statement if required immediately. Akali legislators, including Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia urged the Speaker to let the CM speak on the issue immediately. The CM, however, said he wanted Jakhar to complete his speech and even asked his party MLAs not to interrupt the Opposition leader.

The CLP leader started off well but his speech was disjointed at places because he did not name either the Bluestar memorial or Rajoana initially. However, when the Speaker questioned him as to what he wanted exactly, Jakhar said Badal as well as the BJP should clarify their stands on both issues. He said the CM could not simply wash his hand off the matter by claiming the SGPC was behind both moves.

“Everyone knows the SGPC is your B team. Have you made any effort to stop these acts?” Jakhar added. In his reply, Badal said Congress leaders should remove any doubts in their mind that law and order situation and communal brotherhood would be affected due to the memorial.

Urging the Congress not to say anything that would spoil the atmosphere of the state, he said the party’s “sanjh” (bonding) with the BJP had restored peace. Badal asserted that as long as he was alive he would ensure that peace and communal brotherhood would remain intact in Punjab. “I am ready to sacrifice my life for this cause”, he said, adding that some forces were trying to derail the hard-earned peace in Punjab.

The CM even read out a prepared reply, which stated that the Army action on the Harmandar Sahib in 1984 had left deep wounds on the psyche of the Sikh community. He said this assault was condemned not only by Sikhs but by all right-thinking people from all communities.





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