Punjab Election 2017: Political slugfest over Bathinda blast continues as SAD, Cong blame AAP

Just two days ahead of Punjab going to polls, the slugfest between political parties in the north-western state turned uglier as both the Shiromani Akali Dal and Congress blamed the Aam Aadmi Party for the high-intensity twin blasts on Tuesday in Bathinda that killed six people including two children.

Both Congress and SAD blamed AAP of colluding with hardliners who support the Khalistan movement and the blasts, even though police on Thursday held the Pakistan intelligence agency ISI responsible for it.

The blast had occurred at around 8.30 pm on Tuesday shortly after the jan sabha of Congress candidate Jassi, who is contesting from the Maur constituency. Jassi, who is a relative of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, escaped unhurt in the incident.

After Congress Punjab president Captain Amarinder Singh blamed AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal for creating a "1987-like situation", it was Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's turn to link AAP with the twin blasts on Tuesday. He said: "Some days ago six people were killed in a bomb blast. Kejriwal, who is Delhi's chief minister is helping those powers. He is helping them come back to life."

Earlier Amarinder had said, "What Kejriwal is trying to do is very dangerous. Last night he spent in the house of a Khalistan operator. That is the kind of politics that started the Khalistan movement. He may be playing for politics but that should not be allowed," he told Times Now.

Aam Aadmi Party national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a rally in Punjab. PTI

Aam Aadmi Party national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a rally in Punjab. PTI

Amarinder also alleged that most of AAP's foreign funding has come from Khalistan supporters "living abroad".

Considering the way NRIs have been garnering support for AAP in Punjab and the fact that it happened soon after Congress campaigning, it is natural for Amarinder and his party to be unhappy with it, but his latest comment only shows that AAP's popularity has been hurting Congress a little too much. So much that it forced the sensible Amarinder to basically hold all Punjabi NRIs responsible for the blast.

But Amarinder is not the only one who considers the NRIs supporting AAP as terrorists. According to a Hindustan Times report Sukhbir Singh Badal highlighted how chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s rival candidate from Lambi, AAP’s Jarnail Singh, had addressed "a public meeting of the Khalistani groups" in London a year ago. "The forces behind Tuesday’s blast are siding with the AAP," the report quoted the senior Badal leader as saying.

But what is more interesting about Sukhbir Singh Badal's statement is that the SAD leader went on to allege that "Khalistani separatist groups" are working with the AAP to disturb the peace in the state even though just recently a CIA document revealed that Parkash Singh Badal was a Khalistan sympathiser himself.

Meanwhile, AAP blamed SAD and Congress for the blast and has already approached the Election Commission seeking interrogation and arrest of Sukhbir Singh Badal to ensure peaceful polling in the state. “To ensure peaceful elections, Sukhbir Badal should be immediately arrested. His role in (the) blast be probed. He will cause more violence,” Kejriwal tweeted.

“Sukhbir Badal is a hardened criminal who will go to any extent to ruin Punjab and its peace. Election Commission must arrest him to ensure peaceful elections,” he added.

As per preliminary probe, the blast had occurred in a car which was found to be stolen and was bearing the registration number of a two-wheeler. The chassis and engine number of the vehicle was also removed, police officials said.

The blast was so powerful that it ripped apart the vehicle. Initially, it was suspected that the blast was caused by a LPG cylinder in the car. But later it was found that the car was not running on gas. A burnt pressure cooker was also found near the blast site.

A forensic team of police, based at Chandigarh, has reached Bathinda to investigate the cause of the blast on Wednesday.

Updated Date: Mar 30, 2018 14:37 PM

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