The blazing guns trained at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and its chief Arvind Kejriwal in particular, in 2017, are being pointed at them once again with the allegations of the party’s connection with the Khalistani forces surfacing again.
Ahead of 2017 polls, everyone was sure that AAP would form the next government in Punjab. But Kejriwal’s night stay at the residence of one Gurinder Singh in Moga – alleged to have Khalistan links – five days ahead of Punjab polls said to have a vast impact on its poll prospects.
Five years on, it is happening again. A video of AAP’s one of the founding members Kumar Vishwas, alleging that Kejriwal was ready to take support from separatist elements to become the Chief Minister of Punjab during the 2017 assembly elections, went viral.
Taking note, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding an independent probe into the allegations. Channi wrote another letter to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah claiming that the banned pro-Khalistani organization — Sikhs for Justice — is in constant touch with the AAP.
In response, Shah assured Punjab Chief Minister that the Central Government has taken the allegations leveled against the Aam Aadmi Party “seriously”. Without naming the party, Shah said that he himself is looking into the matter in detail.
Channi, in his letter to Shah, supported his claims by attaching a letter of SFJ’s legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannu. “It has been mentioned in the letter that the SFJ has given its support to AAP in the elections to the State Assembly in 2017 and similarly in these elections too, the SFJ has exhorted the electorate to vote for Aam Aadmi Party,” pointed Channi.
“Such an act of keeping in touch with a separatist organization and taking its help for the election is a very serious issue for the country's unity,” Amit Shah wrote in his reply to Channi, adding, “It is shameful that such people are joining hands with terrorists to come to power”.
“As per your letter, a political party being in contact with and seeking support from an anti-national, separatist and banned outfit during elections is a serious matter in the context of national security...The agenda of such people is no different from the agenda of the nation's enemies. It is condemnable that some people, in order to attain power, can go to the extent of teaming up with separatists and hurting the unity of Punjab and the country,” Shah said in the letter.
In his letter, Channi also mentioned Kumar Vishwas’ recent sensational revelations, demanding, “These allegations also deserved to be probed comprehensively and necessary action taken accordingly”.
Vishwas, while talking with a news agency, had claimed that Kejriwal, in 2017, had maintained that he would either become the chief minister of Punjab or the first Prime Minister of an independent nation — in an apparent reference to Khalistan.
A day before, Punjab’s additional Chief Electoral Officer issued a letter restraining media houses, political parties, and their representatives from publishing the “maliciously manufactured” Vishwas’ interview “with a view to defame” Kejriwal and “promote hatred, ill will, feeling of hostility against different religious groups and communities”. However, the letter was soon withdrawn by the Chief Electoral Officer.
Later, Channi requested the Prime Minister to order an impartial probe into the claims made by Kumar Vishwas, saying that the people of Punjab have paid a heavy price of separatism. “As CM of Punjab, I request Hon'ble PM @narendramodi Ji to order an impartial enquiry in the matter of @DrKumarVishwas Ji’s video. Politics aside, people of Punjab have paid a heavy price while fighting separatism. Hon’ble PM needs to address the worry of every Punjabi,” he wrote on Twitter while sharing the letter of Punjab’s chief electoral officer.
Building up the same narrative, as was one ahead of 2017 elections, all political parties are targeting Kejriwal for his alleged terrorist links. Congress senior leader Rahul Gandhi, addressing a rally a day before, claimed that AAP leaders can be seen at “terrorist homes”. BJP and its ally Capt Amarinder Singh have also been talking of “separatist” elements returning if AAP wins, while SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has accused AAP of “embracing radicals”.
Dismissing all the allegations, Kejriwal on Friday accused the BJP and the Congress of ganging up against AAP. “Perhaps I am the world's sweetest terrorist who builds schools, hospitals, builds roads, improves road and power infrastructure, and sends elderly on pilgrimages. Such a terrorist would never have been born,” he said in his defence.