Prime Minister Modi disappoints Punjab
Chandigarh, January 3: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today not only disappointed Punjab but also let down the alliance partner Akali Dal which had created a lot of hype on his Gurdaspur rally. He did not make any new announcement.
It was thanks-giving rally organised by the BJP-Akali Dal for Kartarpur Sahib corridor from Dera Baba Nanak that is to be visa free access to the shrine in Pakistan across river Ravi.
The BJP leaders sat on left side of Modi on the stage and the Akalis led by Sukhbir Singh Badal on the right.
The rally was marked by what can be termed as bad omen.
The honouring of Modi by the two leaders before he was to address the people went wrong. The shawl that was to be handed over to Sukhbir Badal by the BJP leader to honour Modi slipped from his hand to the ground. Sukhbir picked it up and put it around shoulders of the Prime Minister.
Wiser from the bitter experience at Bathinda, Sukhbir did not put tied turban on Modi’s head. It may be mentioned that the Bathinda function, Modi had removed the turban immediately, much to the embarrassment of Akalis. That was an Akali rally.
Sukhbir in his address gave all the credit to Modi for Kartarpur Sahib corridor, conviction of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the case of November 1984 massacre of Sikhs, exemption to Langar from GST and pruning of the black list of Sikhs settled in other countries.
He also credited two of Modi’s predecessors-I K Gujaral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee for being positive to Punjab. He gave credit to Gujaral for waiver of Rs 8500 crore special term loan.
Some instalments were later waived by Dr Manmohan Singh.
Sukhbir demanded that the name of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi be dropped from all the schemes, projects and institutions in the context of his role in November 1984 carnage of Sikhs that had now been ‘proved’ with conviction of Sajjan Kumar.
Modi did not respond to this particular issue.
Modi appropriated all the credit for Kartarour Sahib corridor.
It is pertinent to mention that the BJP leaders, Sukhbir and his wife and union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had launched virulent attack on Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu when he returned from Pakistan and announced that army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had conveyed to him that Kartarpur Sahib corridor was under active consideration. All hell had broken lose in India as the pic of Sidhu hugging Genreral Bajwa went viral on social media.
Modi was claimed credit for conviction of Sajjan Kumar saying his government had constituted the SIT that had re-opened the cases relating to 1984 anti-Sikh violence. But then the case in which Sajjan Kumar has been convicted is different. He has been jailed on the appeal against his acquittal that was filed by CBI when the prime minister was Dr Manmohan singh.
He trashed loan waiver being implemented in Punjab as fraud that he said was being replicated by the party now in other states where the Congress had now formed the government. He said the promise was to waive entire amount and from all sources.
Then there is the case of Shahpur Kandi dam that has now been given clearance. This dam is to come up as balancing reservoir for Ranjit Sagar Dam project on Ravi. It may be recalled that its foundation stone as laid by then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao when Beant Singh headed the Congress government in the state. Work on the project stopped as it faced several hurdles.
This rally was projected as launching of campaign for 2019 Lok Sabha election in Punjab. However, people started leaving much before Modi ended his speech. Modi, after having been anointed as the prime ministerial candidate by the RSS-BJP in 2014, had addressed his first rally at Madhopur that used to be part of Gurdaspur till Pathankot was carved out as new district.
Modi, this time however, failed to connect with the people in Punjab.
The Akali leaders seemed to be sullen towards the end of the rally.
The slogan shouting brigade remained silent during Modi’s speech.
There was yet another significant aspect. Sukhbir Badal referred to his father Parkash Singh Badal thrice as “my father” (Mere Pita).