Chandigarh, August 19:

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder on Monday trashed Sukhbir Singh Badal’s lies on Rajiv Gandhi as a conspiracy to incite and divide the Sikh community by defaming the late former prime minister.

Slamming the Akali president for the brazen falsehoods unleashed on the eve of Rajiv Gandhi’s 75th birth anniversary, the Chief Minister said the former Prime Minister’s name never came up during or after the 1984 riots, and was being propped by the BJP and the Akalis in a desperate bid to garner Sikh votes.

By repeatedly lying about the issue, they have been trying to manipulate the facts, which clearly showed that Rajiv was in no way complicit in the events that followed the tragic assassination of his mother, then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1984, said the Chief Minister. The fact was that Rajiv was not in Delhi and heard of his mother’s death at an airport in West Bengal on a transistor radio (with no mobile phones etc available then), recalled Captain Amarinder, lashing out at Sukhbir for trying to mislead the people of Punjab by feeding them outright lies on the issue.

They (the Akalis) claim to be protectors of the Sikh community but did nothing for Sikhs during 10 years of ruling the state, pointed out the Chief Minister, adding that under their (BJP-SAD) regime, Punjab witnessed some of the worst incidents of sacrilege, which they did nothing to either prevent or solve. The attack on Rajiv just ahead of his birth anniversary was just another attempt by the Akalis to cover up their own acts of omission and commission, he added.

The Chief Minister cornered the Akalis over their support to the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, in shameful violation of the very principles on which the Anandpur Sahib resolution was founded. By backing the Kashmir developments, they had made it clear that they had no respect for the country’s federal structure and its Constitutional philosophy, he added, pointing out that the Anandpur Sahib resolution had advocated more powers to the states, with a stronger federal structure for the nation.

With Prakash Singh Badal maintaining a studied silence on the issue, nobody really knew what the stand of the Akalis was now on the Anandpur Sahib resolution, said Captain Amarinder, asking Sukhbir to clarify the same.

The Akalis have always misled and deceived the people of Punjab on every issue concerning their welfare, right from SYL to the 1984 riots, said the Chief Minister, warning Sukhbir that his continued and persistent lies would only lead to further alienation of his party from the people, who had already rejected SAD politically.