Chandigarh: The simmering feud between alliance partners Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP in Punjab was escalated for the first time to the PMO level with deputy chief minister and Akali leader Sukhbir Badal shooting off a letter to Narendra Modi, questioning the "confusion generated among Sikhs" over BJP's goodwill gesture to give compensation to 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims.
The BJP on October 30 - with an intention to hijack SAD's core Sikh issue that helped Akalis strike an emotional chord with the voters almost every election - had announced Rs 500,000 relief to families of 1984 riot victims. This move was designed to give a shot in the arm for the Punjab BJP, which had become more assertive after its historic victory in Haryana assembly polls. However, Sukhbir has now picked holes in the announcement, pointing out that the compensation is still at a proposal stage only. "There is a sense of palpable disappointment and even resentment among the Sikh community as to why the compensation award for the victims of the Congress-orchestrated 1984 anti-Sikh riots was not implemented immediately after its announcement," says Sukhbir's letter.
This is for the first time the SAD has taken a dig at Modi government on the sensitive issue. With this, SAD has also taken the alliance "fight", which was restricted to Punjab leaders till now, to Delhi. Sukhbir pointed out that a lot of ground had to be covered to ensure comprehensive justice to the victims. The letter stated the compensation was treated as the first concrete and meaningful step to apply balm on the hurt Sikh psyche.