Jalandhar, May 10, 2019: Taking strong exception to the Prime Minister’s offensive attempt to link Rajiv Gandhi with the 1984 riots, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday threw the Lok Sabha battle hat back into Narendra Modi’s ring by drawing a comparison with the Godhra massacre, which took place under the latter’s chief ministership in Gujarat.
It was wrong of Modi to connect Rajiv with the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Captain Amarinder told mediapersons who were travelling with him from Patiala to Jalandhar this afternoon. “What if someone starts linking Modi with Godhra?,” he asked, adding that it did not behoove the prime minister of the country to stoop to such levels to win an election.
Expressing himself in total disagreement with Congress leader Sam Pitroda’s controversial remarks that “if the 1984 riots happened, they happened, so what”, the Chief Minister said if Pitroda had actually said this, it was shocking. “1984 riots were a big tragedy and justice had yet not been meted out to the victims. If some individual leaders were allegedly involved in the riots, they should be punished as per law”, asserted Captain Amarinder. He said that since the riots had happened, he had been saying that he had heard accusations about the involvement of Sajjan Kumar, H.K.L. Bhagat, Dharam Das Shastri, Lalit Maken and Arjun Das, and, till date, he stands by his statement.
However, he asserted that the involvement of some individuals did not mean Modi could try to implicate Rajiv or the Congress party in the riots. By the same yardstick, Modi should also have been implicated in the Godhra attack, he added, asking the prime minister to refrain from undermining the prestige of his position with such crude and baseless statements.
Modi should not forget that names of several BJP and RSS leaders had figured in the 1984 riots FIR, said Captain Amarinder, calling for action, as per the law, against all those found responsible for the mayhem unleashed on innocent Sikhs.
The Chief Minister said Modi was unnecessarily dragging Rajiv’s name to court controversies and divert attention, with his lies, from the real issues. The prime minister had not uttered a single word on the work done by his government in the past five years, he pointed out, adding that Modi and his BJP had been totally exposed and were now grabbing at non-existent straws in their desperation to get back into the elections.
Modi’s false claims to nationalism and his cheap efforts to take credit for the armed forces’ accomplishments was also in line with his strategy to divert attention of the people from the grassroots issues of unemployment, corruption, farmer suicides, economic regression etc., the Chief Minister said. Captain Amarinder said that in his 50 years of being in politics, he had never seen a prime minister come down to such levels.
Responding to questions on the Balakot air strikes, the Chief Minister said while all Punjabis appreciated the role of the defence forces, nobody in the state, which shares over 500 kms of the international border with Pakistan, wants war.
While reiterating his happiness at the decision to open the Kartarpur Corridor, Captain Amarinder once again advised caution against the ISI and its intentions. The fact that Pak Army General Bajwa had told Navjot Sidhu about the opening of the corridor even before Imran Khan was sworn in as their prime minister clearly showed it was an ISI game-plan, he warned. Both India and Punjab would have to be careful in handling the situation, he said, reiterating however that he would go to Kartarpur with the first ‘jatha’ to fulfill his long-cherished desire to visit the historic gurdwara.
In response to a question, the Chief Minister said though the current polls were national level elections, the development and welfare work done by the Congress government in Punjab would sway public mood and sentiment.