BJP backs Akali stand on Haryana Gurdwara Panel

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Longowal, Sangrur, Aug 20 (UNI) The Shiromani Akali Dal today got a shot in the arm as the Bharatiya Janata Party committed itself to fighting against the Congress move in Haryana to set up a separate Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in the state.

Paying glowing tributes to Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, an apostle of peace and communal harmony, on his 23rd death anniversary here, BJP chief Rajnath Singh emphatically opposed the Haryana government's move, quoting the Constitution against interference in the religious affairs of any community.

Describing the move as ''highly fraught with dangers'', he said that if the Congress party and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not intervene with the Haryana government to get the move scuttled, the fight against it ''would not be an issue for the SAD and the Punjab government alone. The NDA would be in the forefront in opposing it at the national level.'' The Longowal Anniversary was being keenly watched by political observers ever since the SAD Core Committee held Sonia Gandhi 'directly responsible ' for the potentially explosive developments in Haryana.

Addressing the gathering, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal seemed to abandon his customary caution and launched a major broadside against Ms Gandhi, adding nobody could meddle in Sikh religious affairs. ''This is all being done at the instance of the Congress High Command'', he said.

He cautioned Ms Gandhi against persisting with this ''disastrous course as Punjab and the country has already paid too heavy a price for similar misadventures of the Congress in the past,'' a reference clearly to the traumatic events of 1984.

''We are a peace loving community but that does not mean we will remain a mute witness if our religion is under attack. We have borne political and economic injustice stoically, but the Congress would be living in a fools paradise if it thinks it can get away with its attempts to weaken the Khalsa Panth,'' said the Chief Minister.

Squarely blaming the Congress regime for the assassination of Sant Longowal, Mr Badal said that Congress-ruled Centre had betrayed Sant Harchand Singh- a great national leader who laid down his life for the sake of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat.

He said that the real tribute to the great Martyr would be to thwart the anti-national forces that were bent upon destablising our society by political machinations such as the Congress move in Haryana.

Among others who spoke included Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, SGPC President Jathedar Avtar Singh and SAD Secretary General Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP.

On the occasion, Mr Badal announced a grant of Rs two crore for the provision of sewerage and drinking water facilities in the Longowal town.

UNI VKJ RJ RAI2200

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