It’s 1984 versus Bargari in hot seat Bathinda - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Friday, May 17, 2019

It’s 1984 versus Bargari in hot seat Bathinda


It’s 1984 versus Bargari in hot seat Bathinda

Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service
Bathinda, May 16

The fight for high-stakes Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency has turned into a battle between Congress’ 1984 versus SAD’s Bargari in the last lap of the campaign with both parties exploiting the emotive issues.

 With the Akalis on the back foot on the sacrilege issue, PM Narendra Modi mounted an attack on the Congress at his Bathinda rally on Monday, accusing the party of rewarding its leaders known for their “role” in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The SAD roped in Bibi Jagdish Kaur, a key witness, for the rally where she appealed to the people not to vote for the Congress. 

A day later, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in her maiden rally at Bathinda, said those who desecrated Sri Guru Granth Sahib were destroying the soul of Punjab. SAD candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal hit back, saying Priyanka has “rubbed salt on Sikh wounds by refusing to apologise for Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots”. 

The slugfest continued on Wednesday when Congress chief Rahul Gandhi addressed a rally in Bargari and promised strict action against those behind sacrilege. Harsimrat accused him for “politicising the grave issue”. She released a video, saying “divine wrath may fall on those who had perpetrated sacrilege as well as those politicising it”. The SAD president, Sukhbir Singh Badal, had made a similar remark during Modi’s rally. 

Harsimrat and Congress candidate Amrinder Singh Raja Warring have been harping on these issues at their public meetings. However, the Congress’ attack seems more stinging with Warring reminding voters that  Akali Dal had “always sought votes in the name of the Panth” and yet it was under its regime that the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib had been committed.

 The other issue that has dominated the political discourse is “anti-incumbency” against the state government. If the Shiromani Akali Dal faces the heat on the issue of sacrilege, the Congress too has a lot to expalin over its alleged failure to provide a complete debt waiver to farmers and jobs to the unemployed youth.

Both Harsimrat and Warring have had to face uncomfortable questions from the people at their meetings. The two leaders accuse each other of “stage-managing such incidents”to disrupt their events. 

The two parties are now lending star power to their campaign. While Hema Malini and Sunny Deol held roadshows for Harsimrat today, Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu will garner support for Warring during his daylong visit to Bathinda tomorrow, the last day of campaigning.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) move to bring in Hema Malini and Sunny Deol seems to be aimed at wooing the urban voter, considering the Congress had a lead of around 30,000 votes in Bathinda (Urban) and 24,000 votes in Mansa in the 2014 elections. 

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