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Khalistan cloud: Opp wants Capt out

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CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI, JUNE 22: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s recent visit to a Canadian gurdwara, known as a hub for separatists, has triggered a political storm with the Akali Dal, BJP and SGPC demanding his dismissal and filing of a case against him.

The Congress, however, defended his presence at the gurdwara terming it as an ‘‘unfortunate coincidence’’. It was reacting to a report in The Indian Express today which carried a photograph of the Chief Minister addressing a gathering at the Dixie Gurdwara with the ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ slogan behind him.

Punjab’s main Opposition parties, Akali Dal and BJP, charged the Chief Minister with being ‘‘in league with a network of terror’’ and urged the Governor to act decisively in the matter.

Charging Singh with ‘‘betraying a dangerously perverse streak in character’’, SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal in a statement said he ‘‘should be proceeded against as per law of the land’’.

Joining issue, Punjab BJP chief and MP Avinash Rai Khanna said Singh should be booked for treason. He said the Chief Minister had acted against the Constitution and had lost the propriety to continue in office.

In New Delhi, two members of the SGPC, the apex Sikh religious body, asked the Chief Minister to step down immediately and urged PM Manmohan Singh to take action against him.

‘‘The Punjab Chief Minister should immediately resign. He has no moral right to be in office. We urge the Prime Minister to take action against him immediately,’’ said SGPC member Kuldip Singh Bhogal.

Another SGPC member, Harinder Pal Singh, said ‘‘The Chief Minister should have avoided going to a gurdwara which is known to be a hub of separatists.’’ Both the SAD and BJP urged the President and the Punjab Governor to ‘‘act decisively’’ in the matter.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan termed Singh’s presence at the Dixie Gurdwara as an ‘‘unfortunate coincidence’’.

‘‘The Chief Minister has already replied to it...Nothing further should be read into it,’’ Natarajan said.

I won’t quit, says Amarinder

NEW DELHI: Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh today dismissed the demand for his resignation and accused the Opposition of misleading the public. In an interview to BBC Hindi, he said he had visited the gurdwara in Canada after the Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker had addressed a gathering there days earlier.

‘‘There are so many things which have been put up in different gurdwaras in Punjab. Does this mean that I should not go to gurdwaras?’’ he said. —PTI


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