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AAP takes high moral ground on Sikh sentiment row; opens second front against Congress

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST
Foot in the mouth?
  • AAP has decided to that the high road and apologise for hurting Sikh sentiments
  • HS Phoolka performed sewa at Harmandir Sahib, Kejriwal to do the same next week
Attacks Congress
  • AAP has also launched a new offensive on the Congress
  • They have shared posters featuring Amarinder Singh in front of Darbar Sahib
More in the story
  • What is the Congress saying?
  • Will the war of words subside anytime soon?

Being cornered in the war of words amid charges of having hurt the Sikh sentiments, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leadership in Punjab is now moving towards taking a high moral ground on the issue.

This is evident from the fact that despite its leaders having tendered unconditional apology for having the picture of Harmandir Sahib and the party symbol of the broom on the cover of it youth manifesto along with the senior leader Ashish Khetan having equated the document with religious texts - the top-most leadership is going overboard to get the sympathy of the electorate.

Must Read: Row over hurting Sikh sentiments: has AAP walked into a trap?

To cap it all, senior party leader and one of the most respected faces among the Sikhs, HS Phoolka, went to Amritsar on Sunday and performed Sewa at the Golden Temple.

Exactly a week after this, it will be the national convenor and the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who will be repeating the same act at the Golden Temple.

War of words

At the same time, while the AAP leadership was involved in an aggressive war of words with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership over the issue, it has now opened a second front against the Congress too on the issue.

This has led to both the SAD and the Congress attacking it persistently with the AAP leadership hoping that these attacks would yield results in the form of voter sympathy.

Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has gone to the extent of saying that Kejriwal's proposed visit to Harmandir Sahib would be a mere 'sham' as it would not absolve him and his party from the heinous sins it has committed.

Talking on the sidelines of his Sangat Darshan program in Ropar assembly constituency, Badal said that Kejriwal and his party stood fully exposed as their mindset had clearly revealed their innermost psyche - the 'scant respect they show towards the religious sentiments of other communities may be Sikh, Hindu or Muslim.'

AAP's actions show the 'scant respect' they have for religious sentiments: Parkash Singh Badal

Pointing out that anyone can offer prayer and perform 'Sewa' at Darbar Sahib out of repentance, Badal said that people like Kejriwal and his accomplices are only indulging in politicking as there is a world of difference between their words and actions.

Divide and defeat

Sources said that after being initially divided on the issue of tendering an apology for the 'inadvertent' error, the AAP leadership finally decided that an apology and subsequent acts of repentance would go down well with the masses.

The message its leaders are now taking to the people is that the party which has carried out a series of pro-people campaigns on issues like drugs, spurious pesticides, farm distress and farmer suicides - would never do anything to hurt their sentiments.

At the same time, the party has chosen to attack the Congress as well, along with the Akalis.

Senior AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Saturday released a video showing Akali and Congress leaders putting a 'Tilak' on Guru Granth Sahib at a function.

The video had Akali Lok Sabha Member Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra, cabinet minister Surjeet Singh Rakhra and Congress MLA Preneet Kaur caught in the 'blasphemous' act.

Khaira also showed some political posters of the SAD and Congress in which they had used the photo of Sri Darbar Sahib along with their party symbols.

Punjab Congress President Amarinder did not take long to get back at Khaira. Amarinder said that frustrated and cornered, the AAP has resorted to its favourite game of tarnishing the image of its rival.

He accused AAP of crafting a picture of his with Darbar Sahib in the background along with the party symbol.

Congress vs AAP

Amarinder questioned why the Akali-turned-Congressman-turned-AAP leader Khaira remained silent for about two and a half years since the picture 'allegedly' appeared.

The Congress party is trying to convey that Amarinder needs no certificate from anyone, much less the AAP.

"When it comes to defending the sanctity of the Darbar Sahib, he took no time in resigning from the party and the Parliament in 1984. Questioning his credentials about his commitment towards the sanctity, the dignity and the divinity of the Darbar Sahib is not just ridiculous but will prove self-defeating for those trying to raise such questions," said the party.

Amarinder has questioned the rationale behind Kejriwal's proposed apology and Sewa on 18 July.

"Who is Kejriwal to seek forgiveness and why is he seeking the forgiveness?" he asked while pointing that the one apologising should be the person responsible for drafting the manifesto and putting the picture of Darbar Sahib along with the broom on it.

By seeking an apology AAP has admitted that they made the mistake: Amarinder

He reiterated that it was a deliberate act of the party and not an inadvertent mistake.

Amarinder further pointed out that by seeking forgiveness Kejriwal and his party had already admitted to having committed blasphemy.

"Now it is for the Akal Takht to decide the quantum of punishment and not Kejriwal and the party. What logic are they going by, by first committing the crime and then deciding the quantum of punishment themselves?" Amarinder underlined.

Khaira has taken the war of words further saying,"I had downloaded the poster from the official Facebook page of Amarinder dated 22 April, 2014 and I still have snapshots of the Facebook post. If Amarinder claims the photographs are photoshopped then why doesn't he lodge an FIR against me?"

There is no chance of this war of words between the three political heavyweights subsiding any time soon. It can only be expected to become shriller, at least until Kejriwal's proposed visit to the Golden Temple.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

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First published: 12 July 2016, 1:35 IST