Punjab minister Rana Gurjit Singh today lashed out at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for its accusations against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the Gandhi family over the row involving Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan. The Power and Irrigation Minister in the Amarinder-led Congress government in the state claimed that the "wild allegations" levelled by the SAD had exposed its "pro- Khalistani" leanings, considering that many Canadian liberals had criticised Sajjan for expressing such views. The SAD, by siding with a "Khalistani sympathiser" like Sajjan, had proved that it did not have the welfare of Punjab or its people at heart but was only keen on promoting its "political interests" even if it meant "communalising" the state's environment, alleged Gurjit. By choosing to deny a "fact acknowledged and accepted by many in Canada and India", the SAD was once again trying to "polarise the state on communal lines, as it has been doing over the past several years", he added. The state government has been tracking the activities of the pro-Khalistani elements and had enough information to show that Sajjan was siding with such forces, which were perpetually trying to raise their heads in Punjab again, the Congress leader said. Claiming that the Badal family-led SAD's "nefarious designs" to "communalise the state's fabric" had failed, with the voters "rejecting their efforts outright" in the recent Assembly polls, Gurjit said the people of Punjab would not allow their peace and harmony to be disrupted again at any cost. "We have suffered enough at the hands of extremists and will do everything in our power to prevent the revival of militancy in any form in the state," he added. Gurjit also flayed the Akalis for "unnecessarily dragging" the Gandhi family into the Sajjan controversy. Amarinder had never shied away from taking a principled stand on any issue, even if it meant breaking away from the party as he had done in the wake of Operation Blue Star, the Congress leader pointed out, adding that the chief minister believed in standing by his values and principles, irrespective of the impact it might have on his political career. He claimed that Amarinder's stand on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was "more than clear" and he had publicly articulated the same on several occasions. The chief minister was not answerable to the Akalis, but was only accountable to the people of Punjab, who had given him a "resounding mandate" in the recent Assembly polls, said Gurjit. Describing the Canadian Defence Minister as "pro- Khalistani", Amarinder had recently said he would not meet Sajjan during the latter's visit to Punjab.
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