On the last day of Punjab Assembly election campaign, Congress Thursday played the panthic card and promised to free Sikh youths from “Indian” jails and consolidate Malwa by directing all its big guns in the region. Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, while campaigning in Kotkapura for Bhai Harnirpal Singh Kukku, promised to work towards “freeing” the innocent Sikh youths languishing in jails across the country. This has been the demand of radical Sikh organisations in the recent past. A radical Surat Singh Khalsa has been on fast unto death demanding release of such Sikhs. It is a surprising move on the part of Congress as the party has hit out at rival Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for pandering to radical Sikhs ahead of elections in the state.
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“Punjab was brought out of the throes of terrorism with great difficulty but with the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the threat of violent disruptions and revival of terrorism has come back to haunt the people of the state,” said Amarinder.
Meanwhile, sources in the Congress party said that it had decided to address the issue of Sikhs to cut into the panthic votebank perceived to be rallying behind the AAP, a rookie party threatening the prospects of Congress in Malwa.
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The Congress also posted all its big guns in Malwa region on the last day of campaign with AICC Vice President Rahul Gandhi addressing four mega rallies in Lambi, Sangrur, Gidderbaha and Fatehgarh Sahib. While Lambi is the citadel of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, against whom the party has pitted Amarinder, the rest of the three constituencies are seeing a contest by Rahul Gandhi’s confidants. Former Member of Parliament Vijay Inder Singla is contesting from Sangrur, Indian Youth Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring is contesting from Gidderbaha and Kuljit Nagra is contesting from Fatehgarh Sahib.
Besides Rahul Gandhi, Amarinder and cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu too participated in his rallies and camped in the Malwa region. “Such intense electioneering helps the party. That is why we concentrated on the region to get maximum seats,” said a party spokesperson.
The Congress had asked all its 117 candidates to take out road shows in their respective constituencies Thursday, irrespective of any mega rally or any other program. The road shows by youth Congress volunteers were witnessed across the state today.