CHANDIGARH: Amarinder Singh today lashed out at the Congress high command for appointing Ajay Maken as the Chairman of the Screening Committee for shortlisting candidates for the 2022 assembly elections in Punjab. Maken is nephew of Lalit Maken, who was one of the main culprits of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi.
Amarinder said that the Congress could not have nominated a worst person than Maken, at a time when the central government is moving ahead with prosecution of another culprit, Sajjan Kumar, while the Congress is rewarding the Makens and that too in Punjab, thus rubbing salt into Punjabis’ wounds.
“The Congress party should have avoided naming someone like Maken, as the name itself draws derision and revulsion in Punjab for the involvement of his late uncle in the anti-Sikh riots where innocent victims were burnt alive to death”, the former chief minister said, while adding, even otherwise Maken was not qualified enough to head the Screening Committee with veteran leaders like Ambika Soni and Sunil Jakhar being kept under him.
The Shiromani Akali Dal also questioned his appointment and said that it indicated the concern that the Gandhi family and the Congress high command have for the Sikhs and their sentiments Maken, who is the Congress general secretary, was appointed the chairman of the screening committee for the shortlisting of candidates for the Punjab Assembly polls.
Singh also dubbed Maken a "failed politician", saying under him the party lost two successive Assembly polls in Delhi.
"Maken is the nephew of Lalit Maken, who was one of the main culprits of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. The Congress could not have nominated a worse person than Maken for the job," the former chief minister said in a statement.
Singh said while the Centre is going ahead with the "prosecution of another culprit, Sajjan Kumar, the Congress is rewarding the Makens and that too in Punjab, thus rubbing salt into Punjabis' wounds".
"The Congress should have avoided naming someone like Maken as the name itself draws derision and revulsion in Punjab for the involvement of his late uncle in the anti-Sikh riots where innocent victims were burnt alive to death," he said.
Reacting to Maken's appointment, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia in a statement said, "This is a true indicator of the concern that the Gandhi family and the Congress high command have for the Sikhs and their sentiments."
Asking the Congress what message it was sending to the Sikh community by making Maken the chairman of the committee, he claimed that the party was bent upon spoiling communal peace in Punjab by resorting to such appointments.
"It is clear that the Gandhi family is following its age-old policy of divide and rule by deliberately inflaming passions and creating a wedge among different sections of society," the SAD leader alleged.
Majithia also expressed surprise that neither Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi nor his deputy Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa or state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu had objected to Maken's appointment.
Singh, meanwhile, claimed that Maken was not qualified enough to head the screening committee with veteran leaders like Ambika Soni and Sunil Jakhar under him.
He claimed that Maken had presided over two successive defeats of the party in the Delhi Assembly elections, drawing back-to-back blanks.
"With someone who has presided over the virtual wiping out of the party in Delhi, now being handed over the job in Punjab, the fate of the party can be anybody's guess," he said.
"After ensuring that the Congress gets zero seats in two successive elections in Delhi in 2014 and 2019, he has now been dispatched to ensure that the same feat is achieved in Punjab as well," Singh said.
The former chief minister said this clearly indicates that the Congress has admitted to defeat before the elections by appointing "a failed politician", who lost the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, losing even his deposit in the Vidhan Sabha.
Singh was forced to resign as the Punjab chief minister amid a power tussle with Sidhu.
He floated his own party Punjab Lok Congress to fight the elections.
(With PTI Inputs)