As the poll campaign in Punjab wound down, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal of “helping” forces who want to disturb Punjab’s peace and push it back to the dark days of militancy, remarks that came against the backdrop of Maur Mandi blast.
The ruling Badal family of SAD was also targeted by Rahul as the Congress Vice-President undertook a a whirlwind tour of the border state during which he sat on a mat and had food with locals in Sangrur village after addressing a gathering. Punjab goes to polls on Saturday.
Rahul addressed a series of rallies in the Malwa belt, which is crucial to any party’s win, as it has the bulk of seats in the 117-member State Assembly.
Dressed in a kurta-pyjama and a sleeveless jacket, Rahul began the last day of poll campaign by addressing a gathering in Ballian village in Sangrur, where he sat on a mat and listened to the grievances of a cross-section of people including farmers, Dalits and women.
He then followed it up with by addressing rallies in Gidderbaha and Lambi and minutes before campaigning was to end at 5 p.m., Rahul also addressed a rally at Fatehgarh Sahib.
Lambi is the home constituency of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, from where State Congress chief Amarinder Singh is also in the fray.
Rahul said that if Congress is voted to power it would among others bring a tough law to deal with drug menace in Punjab and ensure that Panchayat land on which poor have right is given to them.
At all the places, Rahul talked about the “Tera” (spirit of giving) philosphy of the Sikh Gurus as against “Mera hai Mera hai” (everything is mine) philosphy of the Akalis.
Rahul also referred to the Tuesday night’s car explosion in Maur Mandi in Bathinda, which left six dead.
The blast had occurred shortly after the “jansabha” of Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi, who is contesting the February 4 elections from Maur Assembly seat.
“The most important thing is the atmosphere you live in. If that atmosphere gets spoiled, violence starts or anger prevails, then the work of farmers, labourers, weaker sections suffers, entire state suffers, you know it very well,” Rahul said.
Taking a veiled dig at the ruling Akalis and the AAP, Rahul said, “from one extremist thinking, Punjab should not go to other extremist thinking. Congress is one such party which takes all sections along. We want that Punjab should rapidly progress.”
“But if violence breaks, anger prevails, then everything will be destroyed. We have to understand that those forces, which destroyed Punjab earlier (referring to militancy period in the state), because of whom violence broke, such forces are yet again raising their head.”
“Bomb blast took place and six people died (Maur). Arvind Kejriwal, who is Delhi’s Chief Minister, is helping these forces and helping them raise their head. And this is most dangerous thing for Punjab.
“If these forces raise their head again, then entire agenda will be hijacked and Punjab will look in some other direction,” he warned.
Rahul said, “So, it is necessary all of us together, be from any religion, caste or creed, we all should again stand up so that we can build a Punjab, which was known for its spirit of giving, a path as shown Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh.”
Rahul said the Sikh Gurus talked of taking everyone along.
“We want to bring back that spirit of Punjabiyat, where everyone used to participate and share moments of joy and grief together,” Rahul, said, adding Punjab can show direction to entire India.