Chandigarh: Several Punjab Congress leaders, including two State Cabinet ministers, on Sunday, hit out at BJP MP Subramanian Swamy for his remarks that the work on the Kartarpur corridor should be stopped in the interest of the nation. Senior Congress leaders, including eight party MLAs, castigated Swamy and said his comments on the Kartarpur corridor had hurt sentiments of the Sikhs.
In a joint press statement, Punjab Ministers Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Bharat Bhushan Ashu besides MLAs Harpratap Singh Ajnala, Kuljit Singh Nagra, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Fatehjung Singh Bajwa, Barindermeet Singh Pahra, Kulbir Singh Zira, Balwinder Singh Laddi and Santokh Singh Bhalaipur said the BJP-ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) must clear their stand on the issue. They said, “Entire Punjab, especially the Sikh circle, knows it too well that the Badal family loves to cling to power rather than working for Sikh interests.”
The Congress leaders further added that the silence of the SAD on various issues, including the GST on gurdwaras and the opposition to the corridor by a BJP leader, “proved that it was hand in glove with the BJP in this sin”. “It was part of a deep-rooted conspiracy that Swamy gave this statement in Chandigarh. Now, the cat has come out of the bag and the Punjab BJP leadership must clarify their position as to whether they are in agreement with the statement of their party leader or not,” they said.
The Congress politicians said further that the Sikh Panth would never forgive the SAD-BJP “for creating obstacles” in fulfilment of the long-cherished wish of Sikhs.
Swamy had on Saturday said the work on the Kartarpur corridor should be stopped in the interest of the nation and there should be no talks with Pakistan on any issue.
“In my view, in the interest of the nation, the work (on the Kartarpur corridor) should not move ahead. Whatever work has taken place (on the project), let it stop there,” said Swamy talking to reporters on the sidelines a seminar here.
When asked about its impact on Sikh sentiments, Swamy said Sikhs were nationalists and they would understand it.
The BJP leader had said, “Pakistan’s intentions are bad and they have to be set right first.”
Asserting that there should be no talks with Pakistan on any issue, Swamy had said the neighbouring country should not be given any excuse, including the Kartarpur corridor project, for talks.
In a major initiative last November, both India and Pakistan had agreed to set up the corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur — the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev — with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur.
Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the Ravi river, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.
Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur up to the border is being built by India.
The corridor will be opened in November to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on 26 November last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district.
Two days later, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had laid the foundation stone of the corridor in Narowal, around 125 km from Lahore.