Kartarpur corridor: Foundation stone replaced amid row over credit

Kartarpur corridor: Foundation stone replaced amid row over credit

Kartarpur corridor; Foundation stone replaced amid row over creditBy Jaideep Sarin,

Dera Baba Nanak (Punjab) : A massive political slug-fest was played out on Monday in full public view, shoving protocol to the side in the presence of Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, as political leaders from opposing sides in Punjab bared it at what was meant to be solemn celebration related to the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara corridor project.

Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday laid the digital foundation stone of a road project that will link the Kartarpur corridor (in Pakistan) by pressing a button.

The actual foundation stone was removed by the authorities just three hours before the event after Punjab cabinet Minister and local legislator Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa objected to the names of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal on the foundation stone.

A clearly upset Randhawa announced that he would ‘boycott’ the foundation stone ceremony and even put black tape on the stone where the names of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Punjab PWD Minister Vijay Singla and his own (Randhawa) were put on the foundation stone along with the names of the Badals.

Officials of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), sensing that the situation could get unpleasant in the presence of dignitaries, removed the foundation stone and replaced it with the digital one.

The foundation on the screen carried the names of Vice President Naidu, Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Though the ceremony was to celebrate the approval of the governments of India and Pakistan to allow the Kartarpur corridor to enable people to pray at the gurdwara in Pakistan, leaders of the Akali Dal and its ally BJP on one side and Punjab’s ruling Congress on the other not only indulged in running each other down and claiming credit for getting the project cleared but even raised slogans against each other in the presence of the Vice President.

Harsimrat Badal, in her address at the function, took a dig at the Congress leaders over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. There was immediate sloganeering against her by Congress leaders and activists.

When Gurdaspur MP and Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar was giving his vote of thanks, he hit back at the Akali Dal leadership by making Punjab a drugs hub. This led to protests and sloganeering by Akali Dal leaders, including Harsimrat’s brother and former Minister Bikram Singh Majithia.

Earlier, Randhawa was seen speaking and gesturing angrily to officers making while they made arrangements for the high-profile function.

The Minister, the Congress legislator from Dera Baba Nanak, was visibly disturbed and shouted at officers. He later told a TV channel: “I will not boycott the function but I will boycott the foundation stone itself. I cannot see my name and those of my ministerial colleagues along with the Badals.”

“The Badals have no contribution in getting the Kartarpur corridor project cleared. They ruled Punjab from 1997 to 2002 and again for 10 years (2007-17). Did they come here to offer prayers while in power? They are only trying to take credit (for the Kartarpur corridor) just because they (Akali Dal) have an alliance with the BJP,” the Minister said.

Randhawa blamed the NHAI officers for the foundation stone controversy. He said that he had serious objections to the foundation stone carrying the names of the Badals.

“The sanctity of the function should have been kept. The foundation stone should have carried only the names of the Vice President and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh,” Randhawa said.

The Minister was also upset that the Congress leadership in Punjab, including him (as the local minister and legislator), Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar (the Punjab Congress President) and cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu were being deliberately ignored for the function while all attention was being given to the Badal family.

Randhawa’s outburst came even as the SAD-BJP and Congress leaders in Punjab were in the midst of a major controversy in claiming credit for getting the Kartarpur corridor project cleared by the governments of India and Pakistan.

The NDA government at the Centre, of which the SAD is a part, approved the project in Punjab linked to the Kartarpur corridor on November 22. The date of the foundation stone was hurriedly decided for November 26 to ensure that it was done before Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the actual Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan on November 28 (Wednesday).

The Congress government in Punjab was going to hold its own function here this week but Chief Minister Amarinder Singh decided to be part of the central government function itself.

The SAD-BJP combine leadership has also been trying hard to take the credit away from state cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who in August went to Pakistan for the swearing-in of his cricketing friend Imran Khan and was the first to announce that Pakistan was keen to open the Kartarpur corridor for devotees from India.

The Akali Dal leadership, including Harsimrat Badal, branded Sidhu as a ‘traitor’ for hugging Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the swearing-in function. They questioned his statements regarding Pakistan’s move on the Kartarpur corridor.

Harsimrat Badal is now herself headed to Pakistan as the central government’s representative for the foundation stone ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor on Wednesday. Sidhu is also going for the same event.

It was at the Kartarpur gurdwara, which is located around two to three kilometre from the India-Pakistan border and is situated right opposite the border belt in Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, that Sikhism founder, Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539), spent 18 years of his life till he died in 1539.

The gurdwara, which fell in Pakistan territory following the partition of India in 1947, has major significance in Sikh religion and history.

For the past over 71 years, even since partition, Sikhs have been offering prayers near the international border.


Vice President cautions against intolerance in the name of cow, Love Jihad

Vice President cautions against intolerance in the name of cow, Love Jihad

M. Venkaiah Naidu

M. Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi : Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday cautioned against practising intolerance in the name of cow protection, Love Jihad and eating habits, saying such actions spoil the name of the country and people can’t take law into their hands.

“… We need to guard against intolerance on the part of certain misguided citizens. We have been occasionally witnessing such words and deeds of intolerance by some citizens in the name of so-called cow protection, Love Jihad, eating habits, watching films.

“Such incidents lead us to the point that individual freedoms can be in full play only when every citizen respects such freedoms of fellow citizens. Post-Emergency, the State apparatus would think twice before riding roughshod over the liberties and freedoms of citizens. But it is enlightened citizens who would enable fuller manifestation of such liberties and freedoms,” Naidu said.

He was speaking at a function organised by Vivekananda International Foundation to release the Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Gujarati editions of the book `The Emergency – Indian Democracy’s Darkest Hour’ authored by A. Surya Prakash, Chairman of Prasar Bharti and a veteran journalist.

The Vice President said such actions of individual intolerance spoil the name of the country. “You cannot take the right to hang anyone. One has to be tolerant of the views of others while one must also be tolerant of the verdict of the people. Dissent also has a place. Freedom must be valued and rights of citizen should be guarded.”

He also referred to the debate over nationalism and patriotism and wondered why some people had problem with even saying “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. The expression is not merely geographical and love for the land but it is love for all opinions, religions, communities and people.

Naidu said India was secular not because of political parties but it was in the DNA of people and added that democracy and secularism were there in the Indian civilization through ages.

Referring to the infamous Emergency of 1975, he said no sensible government would dare to resort to Emergency after the resounding pro-democracy verdict of people in 1977. “Now the threat to individual freedoms is from some misguided citizens. The Emergency was clearly a state-sponsored intolerance to democracy and individual freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”

He asserted that the core Indian values and ethos have no place for intolerance due to which all major religions of the world flourish in India.

“On the 43rd anniversary of Emergency, I would like the message to go out that any citizen who violates the freedoms of fellow citizens would have no right to be called an Indian. It is because he is hurting the Constitution of India and all that India stood for.”

Naidu said it was time the “dark age of Emergency” became a part of the curriculum so that the young learnt to value the democratic freedoms they enjoy.

“It is time the dark age of Emergency becomes a part of the curriculum so that present generations are sensitised to the dreaded events of 1975-77 and they learn to value the democratic and personal freedoms they enjoy today.

“While our history books and textbooks talk of medieval dark days and the British Raj, the fallacious causes and consequences of Emergency is not made a part of the learning of the young,” he added.

He stressed that a crucial lesson of Emergency was that it was the responsibility of each citizen to uphold liberties and freedom of fellow citizens and that “intolerance” should not be accepted.


Yoga has nothing to do with religion: Vice President

Yoga has nothing to do with religion: Vice President

M. Venkaiah Naidu

M. Venkaiah Naidu

Mumbai : Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said that yoga adopts a holistic approach towards health and well-being and it has “nothing to do with religion”.

“Yoga adopts a holistic approach towards health and well-being,” Naidu said while participating in the Fourth International Yoga Day celebrations here.

“Yoga has nothing to do with religion and it is a holistic science embodying the basic principle of organic, interconnectedness of different facets of life,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that some people attribute religious overtones to this ancient scientific system.”

He emphasised that yoga should become a part and parcel of people’s daily routine to combat modern-day health problems, both physical and mental.

“There is also a misconception that yoga is only a sort of physical exercise meant to help the fitness of an individual… It is a holistic system where the mind and body act in unison and get completely rejuvenated as physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation help in overall well-being of an individual,” he said.


Media should avoid sensationalism: Vice President

Media should avoid sensationalism: Vice President

Venkaiah Naidu

Venkaiah Naidu

Guwahati : Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said the media was supposed to avoid sensationalism, report news without coloring with views and appealed them to create awareness about the challenges confronting the nation.

The media must always be free, fair and objective to champion the cause of the underdogs, he said while addressing the gathering after giving away Pratidin Achievers Awards 2017 here.

“Unfortunately, there is an increasing tendency in the newsrooms of the print and electronic media to sensationalise isolated incidents while relegating real hard news to the background. In the long run, this will not only cause damage to the credibility of media but will harm democracy itself as media will not be able to perform its role of an independent watchdog,” he said, according to an official statement.

While appreciating Pratidin Group for recognising excellence in different fields, he made an appeal that “such media houses to conduct campaigns and competitions on issues such as Swachh Bharat to promote awareness on cleanliness and sanitation”.

“Maybe, its TV channel must encourage the cleanest mohalla or locality by giving wide coverage. Such promotional coverage will not only help in creating awareness but also inspire others to follow suit,” he said.

The Vice President also said that awareness should also be created on fighting various challenges confronting the nation such as growing atrocities on women, dangers of drug and alcohol addiction, casteism, religious fundamentalism, corruption, illiteracy and terrorism.

“Increasing depiction of violence, vulgarity and obscenity in cinema is another area of concern which needs to be highlighted by the media,” he said.


Naidu, Kejriwal flag off driverless Metro train on trial run

Naidu, Kejriwal flag off driverless Metro train on trial run

delhimetroNew Delhi, (IANS) Union Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday flagged off the trial run of a driverless Metro train here.

The trial run started at the Mukundpur depot of Delhi Metro and ended at Majalis Park station on the Majlis Park-Shiv Vihar corridor of phase 3.

The new train will undergo rigorous trials to ensure these are ready for smooth operations after the commissioning of the new corridors.

“Initially, train operators will run them for around a year before completely switching to unmanned train operations,” a statement from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said.

Later, Naidu and Kejriwal stressed the need to improve public transport system to reduce air pollution in Delhi.

“Air pollution cannot be reduced till the time people switch to public transport and that will happen only when we have an efficient system in place,” Kejriwal said.

Naidu said the Delhi government’s odd-even traffic scheme was a temporary measure to reduce air pollution.

“We need a strong and vibrant public transport system to make people leave their cars. The Delhi Metro has helped a great deal in this direction and the upcoming phase will see more people opting for Metro for commuting,” the union minister said.

The driverless train is manufactured at Changwon in South Korea. It arrived in India at the Mundra port in Gujarat and was brought by road to Delhi on specially-made trailers.