(Says Akali leaders spent 8 to 16 years in jail fighting for the rights of Punjab, while now people wanted they should be taken out of jail after one year alone)Sardulgarh-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today said central agencies started a campaign against the SAD immediately after it quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA government and even planted their own men to accuse the SAD of committing sacrilege.

The SAD president, who was addressing a huge gathering here in favour of the party’s candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal, said those who had attacked the SAD virulently for the acts of sacrilege eight years back, including self styled panthic leader Baljit Singh Daduwal, had now joined the BJP. “This proves there was a sinister agenda to defame the SAD and weaken it”.

Mr Sukhbir Badal said the SAD was known for selfless service. “Leaders like S Parkash Singh Badal have been jailed for as long as sixteen years in far off places like Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore and Panchmari. Badal Sahab even did not avail bail to attend his daughter’s wedding”.

Mr Badal also took on the BJP for taking over Sikh religious bodies. He said the BJP government in Maharashtra had tinkered with the Sri Hazoor Sahib gurdwara managing board and nominated 12 members to the Board to take it in its control. He said members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee had been co-opted into the BJP even as the SGPC had been broken to create a separate Gurdwara committee for Haryana. He said Sikh bodies under the control of BJP like the Delhi Committee led by Manjinder Singh Sirsa were now even denying ‘langar’ to those who were holding ‘dharnas’ against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The SAD president also asserted that the central government had virtually taken over the AAP government in Punjab. He said chief minister Bhagwant Mann was already functioning as a B team of the BJP and was ready to become the BJP’s chief minister in Punjab in case the party formed the government at the centre.

Mr Badal also appealed to the voters to support the SAD. He assured the people that the party would continue to live by its principles come what may. “We earlier left the BJP because the party was not doing justice with the farming community. Even now we chose not to align with the BJP because it was not doing justice to the Sikh Panth and Punjab”.

In an emotional pitch to the electorate, the SAD president also asked the audience not to vote for the Congress. “Elections in Punjab are occurring on June 1, the same day Indira Gandhi attacked Sri Darbar Sahib with tanks and mortars. No Punjabi can forget the carnage which occurred at Sri Darbar Sahib or the subsequent genocide of Sikhs”.

Mr Badal also spoke about how Mansa, which was one of the most backward areas in the State, had developed manifold during previous SAD tenures. “Look around you. Every infrastructure project be it roads, irrigation channels or Mandis – has come about during the tenure of S Parkash Singh Badal”. Senior leader and party secretary general Balwinder Singh Bhundar, EX MLA Dilraj Singh Bhundur and Istri Akali dal President Bibi Hargobind Kaur also addressed the gathering.

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