Chandigarh: The day State Congress President Navjot Singh Sidhu is to meet the high command after a long gap beginning with his resignation, there is again a boil within the party in Punjab, and this time it is because of the Border Security Force (BSB) Modi government’s move to increase the jurisdiction of BSF.
On Monday, the Union Home Ministry announced that the operational jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) under it, in the border areas of Punjab, Assam, and West Bengal, would be increased to 50 km from the current 15 km.
Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi strongly condemned the decision, terming it a direct attack on the federal structure of the country, and demanded that it be withdrawn immediately.
I strongly condemn the GoI’s unilateral decision to give additional powers to BSF within 50 KM belt running along the international borders, which is a direct attack on the federalism. I urge the Union Home Minister @AmitShah to immediately rollback this irrational decision.
– Charanjit S Channi (CHARANJITCHANNI) October 13, 2021
But his predecessor, Captain Amarinder Singh, welcomed the decision, and said the increased BSF presence would make Punjab stronger. He also said that the central forces should not be drawn into politics.
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‘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’: capt_amarinder 1/2
(File pic) pic.twitter.com/nu4DhAQnAz
— Raveen Thukral (@RT_Media_Capt) October 13, 2021
Amarinder, who was sacked as Punjab chief minister last month, has already made it clear that he is leaving the Congress, and is believed to be closer to the BJP, after which he will decide on his next move. Will announce, including the possibility of forming a separate political organization of his own.
The Home Ministry announcement, meanwhile, has exposed more rifts within the Punjab Congress.
Former state unit chief Sunil Jakhar attacked Channi for the move, saying that the chief minister may have “unknowingly handed over half of Punjab to the central government”.
On Wednesday, he tweeted, ‘Be careful what you are asking! Has @CHARANJITCHANNI inadvertently handed over half of Punjab to the Central Government. (out of total 50,000 sq. km.) 25000 sq. km. Has been put under the jurisdiction of BSF. Punjab Police is being despised. Do we still want more autonomy for the states?’
Be careful what you ask for ! Has @CHARANJITCHANNI unwittingly managed to handover half of Punjab to Central govt. 25000sq km (out of total 50,000sq km) has now been placed under BSF jurisdiction. Punjab Police stands castigated. Do we still want more autonomy to States ? https://t.co/JlGB7G0Pnj
— Sunil Jakhar (@sunilkjakhar) October 13, 2021
More eyebrows were raised when, on Thursday, he tweeted in praise of the BSF, and said he supported Amarinder’s view, that central forces should be used as a political tool.
We are proud of our security forces which are meant to secure our borders and protect India from foreign aggressors.Using them to to cover up the failures & to clean up the mess created by leaders & govts is very alarming. It not only denigrates our brave forces but also 1/2
— Sunil Jakhar (@sunilkjakhar) October 14, 2021
After the removal of Amarinder Singh, Jakhar was in the race for the post of Punjab chief minister, but was let down by the high command at the last minute. It is believed that he is angry with both Navjot Sidhu, and the Congress top leadership.
Among others, Amritsar MP Gurjit Singh Aujla welcomed the move, though he said the 50-km mark was “too much”.
Aujla reportedly said, ‘I think this will help reduce the drug menace. The BSF’s jurisdiction should be limited to 10 kms. I am making this comment only from the point of view of drug smuggling.
Sidhu’s close aide and cabinet minister Pargat Singh held a press conference on Thursday, and blamed Amarinder for the Modi government’s decision.
He said, “Amarinder Singh is working for BJP, and by creating a sense of fear and insecurity in the minds of people, he is trying to polarize Punjab. By taking this step, the Government of India has captured more than half of Punjab’.
The opposition Shiromani Akali Dal has also strongly objected to this move, and termed it as a declaration of emergency in the state. Party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal held a protest against the decision in Chandigarh on Thursday.
— Shiromani Akali Dal (@Akali_Dal_) October 13, 2021
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Sidhu kept silence on this issue, will meet the high command today
But, State Congress President Navjot Sidhu has not yet opened his mouth on this issue. On Wednesday, he shared a meeting with his advisors on social media platforms. ‘Interview’ was inserted, but stayed away from the subject.
In what he said, he only reiterated the old statements, just about the Chief Minister’s plans to end illegal mining in the state, he attacked Channi in a twisted manner. Sidhu objected in a Facebook interview, to which the chief minister had recently said that it was being considered to allow landowners to have free access to sand.
Sidhu has been in a tizzy since resigning in protest against the appointments of Punjab DGP and Advocate General but after the Lakhimpur Kheri incident last week, he seemed to have agreed. To show solidarity with the farmers, the Punjab Congress had set up a common platform.
On Thursday, Sidhu is expected to discuss changes in the party’s organizational structure, along with Congress general secretary KC Venugopal and Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat, ahead of the upcoming assembly elections next year.
(Click here to read this news in English.)
Read also: TMC’s counterattack on increasing the jurisdiction of BSF, said – there is an attack on the federal structure of the country
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