The integrated check post on the Indian side of the international border, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday.  (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)
The integrated check post on the Indian side of the international border, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday. (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

Politics casts its shadow over inauguration of Kartarpur link

  • Both Centre and Punjab govt have erected separate stages for the PM and are engaged in a tussle over it
  • The SGPC has several members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is the main Opposition party in Punjab and a member of the NDA

NEW DELHI : Politics is casting its shadow over the inauguration of the Kartarpur corridor a mere 48 hours ahead of the historic event, with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre and the state government of Punjab both busy erecting stages for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One stage is being put up close to the Integrated Check Post (ICP) under the guidance of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) where Prime Minister is expected to inaugurate the Kartarpur corridor. The other is being built by the Punjab government at the start of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Marg, which leads to the place where devotees will cross over to Pakistan to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, in Narowal district.

“This is an unfortunate tussle going on between the Union government and the Punjab government. The protocol between the state government and the Union government is not being followed. It is the responsibility of the state government to welcome the Prime Minister if he is visiting the state. Both the governments are elected by the people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be on the stage erected by the Punjab government. There should not be two stages but just one," said Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, cabinet minister in the Punjab government and the member of the legislative assembly (MLA) from Dera Baba Nanak, the last town on the Indian side border.

The SGPC has several members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is the main Opposition party in Punjab and a member of the NDA. Several SAD leaders, along with former ministers such as Bikram Singh Majithia and Daljit Singh Cheema, have visited the site where the stage for Modi is being set up.

Leaders of both sides maintain that the opening of the corridor is a historic event and that there should be no politics on the issue.

Representatives of the state government point out that the Union government should be asked why it is politicizing the issue, instead of blaming the Punjab government.

“It is a sad and shameful development for us. We will be holding Shukrana Ardaas to thank Guru Nanak Dev Ji for the opening of the corridor. We would appreciate if PM Modi comes to the venue," said Randhawa.

The MLA had written to the Prime Minister on 31 October asking him to intervene and sort out the confusion.

Randhawa had pointed out that he had held regular meetings with all the central agencies concerned for the inaugural function and there was no hint of the central government planning to erect a separate stage. The Punjab minister also said in the letter that central agencies had regularly inspected the stage construction and other preparations for the inaugural function being made by the Punjab government.

“The decision to go in for a separate stage at this juncture when the state government had already completed about 90% of the work was nothing but playing petty politics and that too on such a pious occasion," Randhawa said in the letter to Modi.

Attempts are being made for a reconciliation. SAD leaders and SGPC members have conveyed to the state government that they would attend the function organized by Punjab government if chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh also comes to the venue.

“There is a compromise formula being proposed by the SGPC members. It seems that the two sides will agree to it and the differences would end. However, a final decision has not been reached yet. There is still some time left to discuss and end the differences," said a senior SAD leader.

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