The former Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, who filed his nomination on Friday, asked his BJP opponent in the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, Arun Jaitley, why he was keeping silence over the killings of at least 35,000 innocent Hindus during the period the State was in the grip of insurgency.
Talking to reporters in Amritsar, Capt. Singh said the senior BJP leader owed everyone an answer as his party was in alliance with the Akali Dal, which controls the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, an organisation that he said annually honoured the assassins of Congress leaders, including the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh.
Mr. Jaitley was keeping mum on the issue of killings lest he annoys his “Akali patrons,” Capt. Singh said and went on to accuse Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of adopting double standards. On the one hand, Mr. Badal got a memorial constructed within the precincts of the Golden Temple to honour those who died in Operation Blue Star and, on the other, opposed construction of a memorial for terrorism victims, the Congress leader said.
Though the people of Punjab had put behind them all memories of the dark days, the issues surfaced during elections, with the Akali Dal and the BJP raising them selectively for partisan interests, Capt. Singh said, adding that building memorials for victims of terrorism would help the future generations draw their lessons from the troubled days of the State.
Earlier, with by his wife Preneet Kaur, who is Minister of State for External Affairs and who is in fray in Patiala, by his side, Capt. Singh handed over his papers to Returning Officer Ravi Bhagat. The scion of the Patiala royal family was also accompanied by his son Raninder Singh and daughter Jaya Kaur as well as Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh.
Hitting back at Capt. Singh, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh said that in the last two years the Congress leader had attended only three of the 42 Assembly sittings. “This is the seriousness he has attached to representing Patiala.”