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AAP leaders to do penance at Golden Temple; Badal terms it a sham

By Ians English

Chandigarh, July 9: AAP leaders said on Saturday that they will carry out voluntary service at the Golden Temple complex on Sunday even as Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal termed the proposed visit of party convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for "sewa" (service) as a "sham".

Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and lawyer H.S. Phoolka said on Saturday said he and other volunteers will seek forgiveness for the mistake done by the party (AAP) by doing 'langar sewa' and service at the 'Jora ghar' (shoe house).

Punjab: AAP leaders to do penance

"AAP leader H.S. Phoolka will seek forgiveness from Guru Granth Sahib by doing sewa on July 10 (Sunday) from 3 am to 5 a.m. at the langar hall and from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. at the 'Jora Ghar' along with party volunteers," said a party statement.

The AAP courted controversy when the cover page of its 'Youth Manifesto' carried a picture of the Sikhs' holiest shrine, Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, along with AAP election symbol of a broom.

Phoolka had said on Friday that Kejriwal will do "sewa" at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on July 18 after charges that the AAP had hurt Sikhs' religious feelings.

Chief Minister Badal on Saturday however said that Kejriwal's visit to 'Harmandar Sahib' on July 18 for performing 'sewa' was merely a sham.

"It would not absolve him and his party in any case from the heinous sin committed by publishing the picture of Sri Darbar Sahib along with broom- their election symbol," Badal said.

Badal said that anyone could offer prayers and perform 'sewa' at the shrine as a true devotee who has a feeling of repentance.

"But people like Kejriwal and his accomplices are only indulging in politicking as there is a world of difference between their words and actions. The proposed visit of AAP convener is nothing more than a political stunt to salvage his image and party's swiftly falling graph of popularity," he said.

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh accused Kejriwal and AAP of "trying to enact a political drama by seeking forgiveness from Darbar Sahab after the blasphemous acts of his party".

"Who is Kejriwal to seek forgiveness and why is he seeking the forgiveness?" Amarinder asked while interacting with the media in Balachaur town, 65 km from here, on Saturday.

"It was a deliberate act of the party and not an inadvertent mistake. By seeking forgiveness, Kejriwal and his party had already admitted to having committed blasphemy. Now it is for the Akal Takht to decide the quantum of punishment and not Kejriwal and the party.

"What logic are they going by, by first committing the crime and then deciding the quantum of punishment themselves," Amarinder said.

Kejriwal is likely to do service at the 'Langar hall' and also at the 'Jora ghar' of the Sikh shrine, which gets thousands of devotees daily.

In further problems for AAP, its leader Ashish Khetan has been booked on charge of hurting religious sentiments of the Sikhs by equating the manifesto with Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita.

Ruling Shiromani Akali Dal activists, including women, on Friday protested in Punjab against the "insensitivity" of the AAP leadership towards religious sentiments of various communities.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, is mulling legal action in the matter.


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