Congress raises finger at Amarinder over extension of BSF jurisdiction
Congress leaders on Thursday attacked former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh for supporting the BJP-led NDA government’s alleged designs to encroach upon the state’s powers a day after his successor Charanjit Singh Channi condemned the decision to unilaterally extend the areas over which the Border Security Force has jurisdiction.
Punjab cabinet minister Pargat Singh suspected Amarinder’s hand in the Centre’s move, saying: “What is Captain sahib trying to prove? I always said he is with the BJP. Earlier, when he went to Delhi and met Union home minister Amit Shah, paddy procurement was delayed by 10 days and now when he has gone to Delhi again, BSF’s jurisdiction has been increased.”
Channi, who has firmly criticised the Centre’s decision, met his predecessor along with his family for a courtesy call on Thursday, but didn’t comment on the BSF order.
On the other hand, Pargat said: “Captain sahib, please do not do this. We respect you a lot. But do not go down this road. Do not get all this done after mixing up with the BJP. The saffron party should also understand that they cannot let Punjab become a disturbed state. It seems they want to impose governor’s rule in the state. I want to tell them that we will not allow the BJP to be successful in its designs.”
He continued: “The Government of India’s decision on the BSF is akin to taking over half of Punjab. It is a sample of the BJP’s polarisation policy. I want to remind them that Punjab follows Guru Nanak Dev’s ideology and teachings. The BJP wants to divide people on communal lines but Punjab has never fallen prey to such designs of rulers.”
Interestingly, Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari, who is considered close to Amarinder, tweeted: “MHA (ministry of home affairs) notification enhancing operational mandate of BSF, 15 to 50km in Punjab, West Bengal & Assam transgresses upon Constitutional Public order & Policing remit of States. Half of Punjab will now fall under BSF jurisdiction. Charanjit Singh Channi must oppose it.”
Former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar also launched a veiled attack on Amarinder in a series of tweets: “We are proud of our security forces which are meant to secure our borders and protect India from foreign aggressors. Using them to cover up the failures & to clean up the mess created by leaders and governments is very alarming. It not only denigrates our brave forces but also adversely affects their morale, discipline & preparedness. It’s this use of our forces as political tool which should be avoided. No one knows it better than Amarinder Singh.”
Amarinder had on Wednesday supported the central government’s decision saying: “Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more & more weapons & drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence & powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central armed forces into politics. Partisan considerations can’t & shouldn’t dictate our stand on issues of national security. I’d said that at the time of the 2016 surgical strikes & am saying it again. We’ve to rise above politics when India’s security is at stake, as it is now.”
Channi had on Wednesday asked Shah to review the decision.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa also attacked the Centre, saying that the reasons to unilaterally change the existing arrangements by the Government of India with regards to the BSF cannot be justified. He alleged that the decision had been taken to weaken the state government and the spirit of federalism.