Now, Varun Gandhi’s anti-Sikh remarks spark row in Punjab

March 24th, 2009 - 10:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, March 24 (IANS) The anti-Sikh remarks allegedly made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Varun Gandhi are now finding political echo in Punjab. Opposition parties and radicals Tuesday asked the ruling Akali Dal, which has an alliance with the BJP in Punjab, on why it is silent on his remarks.
The opposition Congress party in Punjab has declared that it would bring and distribute CDs of Gandhi’s anti-Sikh speeches made during political rallies in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh, to show the true colours of the BJP and the Akalis.

The Akali Dal and BJP have an alliance government in Punjab. Gandhi’s remarks have put the Akali Dal, a Sikh party, on the backfoot.

“The Akalis should explain their stand on this (Gandhi’s anti-Sikh tirade). They have maintained a criminal silence on this issue. They do not want to antagonize the BJP and lose power in the state,” Congress national spokesman and the party’s candidate for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat Manish Tewari said Tuesday.

“Being part of the BJP, Varun Gandhi is an ally of the Akali Dal and Parkash Singh Badal. I would like Mr Badal to clarify whether he agrees with these derogatory remarks against both the Sikh and Muslim communities, and if not, what he proposes to do about it,” former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, has called a meeting in Amritsar Thursday to discuss Gandhi’s remarks. The SGPC is dominated by the ruling Akali Dal.

Radical Sikh organisations like the Dal Khalsa have also questioned the silence of the Akali Dal on the anti-Sikh remarks by Varun Gandhi.

An Akali Dal spokesman said Tuesday that the party would verify the anti-Sikh statements attributed to Varun Gandhi. He added that the Congress, some of whose leaders are implicated for the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi and other places in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots following then prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards, had no right to speak for Sikhs as it had named Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar as party candidates for seats in Delhi.

Both Congress leaders were accused of leading the anti-Sikh rioting in Delhi in 1984.

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