The ghost of Operation Blue Star has emerged again in Punjab, Akali Dal reminded voters of ‘Congress’s hand’ by showing them the picture of Golden Temple

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Similar large-sized posters have been put up across the state by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the supreme elected body of Sikhs which is controlled by the SAD, as the party seeks to strengthen its Panthic politics by taking advantage of the fact that June 1 coincides with the 40th anniversary of Operation Blue Star.

A prominent poster is ubiquitous in rallies organised by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal in this election. It shows a picture of the damaged Akal Takht at the Golden Temple after Operation Blue Star, with Badal appealing to voters to remember “what the Congress did in 1984” while casting their votes on June 1. Similar large-sized posters have been put up across the state by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the highest elected body of Sikhs controlled by the SAD, as the party seeks to take advantage of the fact that June 1 coincides with the 40th anniversary of Operation Blue Star – the controversial action by the army to clear the Sikh holy shrine of militants.

While the Congress is the main target of the posters as Indira Gandhi led the government at the Centre during Operation Blue Star – which ran from June 1 to June 6, 1984 – the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the SAD may also lose some votes. The constituencies where the result could be affected are Faridkot, Sangrur and Khadoor Sahib and to a lesser extent Bathinda. While the son of Beant Singh, one of Indira Gandhi’s assassins over the Golden Temple campaign, is the candidate in Faridkot, in Sangrur, hardline SAD (A) leader Simranjit Singh Mann is the sitting MP and is seeking re-election. Controversial preacher and pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh is one of the candidates from Khadoor Sahib.

Punjab Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said that all polling stations in the state will be tobacco free on the day of Lok Sabha election on June 1. CEO Sibin C said that the use of cigarettes, beedis and other tobacco products will be banned at all polling stations. Presiding officer of each polling station has been designated as nodal officer to ensure tobacco free status of respective polling stations, he said in a statement. It said that the objective of declaring polling stations as tobacco free is to protect non-smokers from exposure to smoke and promote healthy lifestyle. Voting for 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab is scheduled to be held in the final phase on June 1.

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