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Rahul in Punjab, says only Akalis prospering in the state

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Faridkot :  Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, saying only Akalis are prospering in Punjab and stressed the Congress is united in the state as he along with two feuding state leaders met the families of the two youths killed in police firing here.

Rahul, who arrived here by train to meet the families of the youths killed during protests against incidents of sacrilege last month, said, “Right now no one, but the Akalis are prospering in Punjab. Only they (Akalis especially Badals) seem to have a future. We want that everybody in Punjab is prosperous in the future.”

“I can’t see anyone’s future here (Punjab). Punjab is in crisis… Farmers have problems here…drugs are a big problem,” he said.

With his eyes on the assembly elections and the growing factionalism in the state unit, Rahul said, “Congress in Punjab will collectively fight for the future of Punjab, its farmers, Dalits and labourers and change the present government (in 2017 Assembly polls)”.

“Congress will change the present SAD-BJP government by giving a united fight. All the senior leaders of party in Punjab have given me an assurance that they would remain united for the better future of the state,” he said while pointing towards various state leaders accompanying him including state unit chief Partap Singh Bajwa and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh

He, however, cautioned the state leaders that a divided Congress would not attain its aim.

Rahul said the families of the two youths killed in firing at Behbal Kalan want justice.

“One thing I gathered after meeting the families is that they want justice,” he said, adding that if they do not get justice, a delegation of Congress would meet President Pranab Mukherjee to take up their cause.

He said Congress would put pressure on the SAD-BJP combine to ensure justice for the families of the two Sikhs.

“Action must be taken against erring cops,” he said. “Every Congressman will work for ensuring justice for the victims of firing at Behbal Kalan,” Gandhi who spent some 30 minutes with the family of Gurjit Singh, a motor mechanic killed during the protests, said.

During his padyatra between the two villages, the Congress Vice President was accompanied by the two feuding party leaders in Punjab – Amritsar MP Amarinder Singh and state Congress chief Partap Bajwa.

This is the first time since Rahul’s post-Lok Sabha visit to Chandigarh last year in October that both Amarinder and Bajwa have put up a united face. The show of solidarity comes as the party gears up for the 2017 Assembly elections.

Congress leaders Sunil Kumar Jakhar, Vijay Inder Singla and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmad, party MPs Deepinder Singh Hooda and Ravnit Singh Bittu also accompanied Rahul.

During his two-day visit to the state, Rahul is also expected to meet farmers in Bathinda district besides families of the 1984 riot victims.

The Congress Vice President’s visit to the state comes at a time when the state has witnessed protests over incidents of sacrilege.

Hardliners and Sikhs owing allegiance to different organisations have sought exemplary punishment for the cops involved in the firing incident.

Bargari was the epicentre of the Sikhs’ protests against the incidents of sacrilege of the holy book in the state.

Police have so far arrested over seven persons, including two brothers Rupinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh, for their alleged involvement in the acts of sacrilege.

However, all the arrested persons were later released due to lack of evidence against them.

Rahul had earlier visited Punjab in April. He had then visited three grain markets of the state, including Asia’s largest grain market in Khanna.

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