JASWANT SINGH GANDAM / RAMAN NEHRA
India Post News Service
SULTANPUR LODHI/PHAGWARA: Terming her remarks as totally irresponsible and provocative, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has lashed out at Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal over her allegations that his government was trying to undermine the authority of Sri Akal Takht Sahib.
“No true Sikh can ever think of showing disrespect to the prestige of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs,” said the Chief Minister, flaying the Akali leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal for trying to demean the authority of Sri Akal Takht with her reckless remarks.
He said that Harsimrat was the “most ill-informed woman” he had ever come across, and “she was in the habit of making irrational statements without knowing the facts”.
Talking to media persons after a review of the progress of the work undertaken to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Amarinder Singh said not only was his government fully committed to celebrating the historic occasion in a befitting manner but it was also totally open to accepting the proposal of Sri Akal Takht to constitute a joint commemoration committee. According to the proposal, two members each from the Government, the SGPC and a Sikh scholar as a neutral member would be drawn into the committee to evolve a broad consensus on this issue.
The Chief Minister also lambasted Harsimrat for her preposterous remark that Punjab did not require any agricultural project.
Amarinder Singh wondered how she worked in Delhi without any sense of the ground reality.
“How can she ever claim that Punjab, an agrarian state, does not need an agricultural project?” he asked.
In response to a query, the Chief Minister said that religion was always supreme to politics. He reiterated his appeal to all to cut across party lines to jointly celebrate the historic event and to refrain from interfering in religious affairs.
He also reiterated his government’s support to SGPC in organizing all religious functions inside the Gurdwara Sahib, while the state would hold the main event outside the premises, following past precedents.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) also came under attack from the Chief Minister for its attempts to scuttle the Bargari probe through the CBI.
It was the duty of the government of India to accept the state assembly resolution withdrawing the sacrilege cases from the national agency to the SIT constituted by the state government, he added.
Questioning the rationale of the CBI actions, he asked what was stopping it from handing over the cases to the SIT after filing a closure report, suggesting that it had found no wrong committed in the matter.
Pointing out that the CBI came in the purview of the Department of Personnel and not the Union Home Ministry, the Chief Minister said it was the Badals who were obstructing the path of justice.
“What stopped the Badal father-son duo from constituting an SIT to investigate these cases and why did they hand it over to CBI?” he asked, targetting the former chief minister and deputy chief minister of the state.
Asked about the appointment of political advisors, Amarinder Singh said it was not possible for him to stay connected with the people on the ground, considering that the aspirations of those living in the state’s 12,700 villages, as well as the youth, also needed to be taken into account for policy formulation.
He said the new office-bearers would assist him by giving him timely feedback and keeping him updated at all times.
In response to a question on illegal mining in the state, the Chief Minister said it was under control, which was clearly visible from the higher realization of the overall price of Rs 306 crore in comparison to Rs 32 crore last year.
Earlier, on reaching Sultanpur Lodhi, the Chief Minister, accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, visited Gurdwara Sri Ber Sahib to pay respects. On the occasion, former minister Upinderjit Kaur and former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur presented a siropa to the Chief Minister.
The cabinet, led by Amarinder Singh, also visited the site of the main pandal to take stock of the tented city being set up at village Maachi Zoa for the facilitation of millions of devotees expected to converge here to attend the historic event in November.
The Chief Minister also inspected the ongoing works of seven bridges being constructed, of which three high-level bridges are being built at a cost of Rs. 9.30 crore, two-platoon bridges at a cost of Rs 1.98 crore and two-foot overbridges at a cost of Rs 1.38 crore. The bridges are slated to be completed by the end of October.
The Chief Minister visited the site of the main event, where a huge waterproof pandal is being erected to accommodate the tens of lakhs of devotees expected to arrive from different parts of the country and abroad.
Showing complete satisfaction over the ongoing infrastructural and development projects in Sultanpur Lodhi, including the beautification of the holy city, strengthening and widening of roads, tented cities, construction of a new bus stand and circuit house, Amarinder Singh said that all these workers would be completed according to the scheduled deadlines.