Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘surprise’ visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar a day before he embarked on the Punjab leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra has drawn severe criticism from the opposition parties in the state. While the Shiromani Akali Dal has asked Rahul to clarify his stand on Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, the Bharatiya Janata Party has called for a complete boycott of the march in the state.
“Will Rahul Gandhi, who is coming to Punjab under the Bharat Jodo campaign, admit the guilt of Indira Gandhi’s attack on Shri Akal Takht Sahib?” asked former Union minister and SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal also dubbed the yatra as a “drama”, adding that the Gandhi family has a history of “Bharat Todo”.
“Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the attack on Darbar Sahib using tanks and mortars which led to destruction of Akal Takht,” Badal said. He further said that Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi engineered the “1984 genocide of Sikhs” and even justified it by saying “when a big tree falls the earth shakes”.
Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma said that Gandhi, during the yatra, should apologise to Punjab for the 1984 riots. “The way Sikhs were killed in 1984, the Congress never felt ashamed of it. I hope that during his yatra, he (Gandhi) will seek an apology from Punjabis for that heinous act,” Sharma said.
At the Golden Temple, the Gandhi scion did not receive an official welcome, which is usually bestowed on official dignitaries by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). He had arrived in Amritsar on Tuesday afternoon after concluding the Haryana leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Gandhi, sporting a saffron turban and his white t-shirt, offered his prayers at the temple. In the pictures tweeted by Gandhi, he can be seen taking “prasad” and also listening to “Gurbani” at the temple.
Speaking of Rahul’s visit, SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami said that the party has “no regrets” about the 1984 riots, adding that “his silence during the visit to Harmandir Sahib has proved that he and his party is not serious when it comes to justice to minorities.”
“Everybody hoped that to prove his drama about Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi would apologise for attack on Akal Takht. But he once again proved that his party has no regret for anything by issuing no apology,” Dhami said, as quoted by IE.
“Sikhs faced genocide due to Congress and wrongs done to community are not corrected yet. On other hand, Congress still has people like Kamal Nath and Jagdish Tytler, who are in fact making strategies for this Yatra. What can be a bigger joke than this?” Dhami added.
Gandhi began the Punjab leg of the yatra from Fatehgarh Sahib on Wednesday.