Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh attacked SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday over his attempts to "drag" the "innocent" Gandhi family into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
He said only a few individual Congress leaders were involved in the 1984 riots but the party leadership did not support them either covertly or overtly.
Terming as "frustrated attempts" the alleged actions by Badal to "undermine" Rahul Gandhi's leadership, Amarinder Singh said the former Punjab deputy chief minister was desperately trying to "grab at straws" to fight back into the electoral game ahead of the parliamentary polls.
He underscored that it was Gandhi's leadership under which the Congress recently won Assembly elections in three states.
Amarinder Singh also targeted the Akalis for allegedly exploiting religious sensitivities to garner electoral support, as he asked Badal to "stop politicising" such a sensitive issue.
“Misusing religion for political gains will not yield any dividends for the SAD and would backfire on the party in the Lok Sabha elections, as it had done in the 2017 Assembly polls," Amarinder said in a statement in Chandigarh.
The chief minister said that while those who had any role in spreading mayhem against the Sikh community deserved to be punished and should pay for their crimes, it was "irrational" to try and drag the Congress party as a whole, or the innocent Gandhi family, into the case.
"Rahul was a school-going child and Rajiv Gandhi was away in West Bengal at the time of the violence," Amarinder Singh said.
"Criminals have no religion and are not affiliated to any political party," he said, adding that all those responsible for perpetrating the violence in the wake of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination will "pay" for their crimes.
Amarinder Singh hailed the court for sentencing former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar to life term, and expressed confidence that others guilty of the heinous crime will also be "paid back in the same coin".
Reacting to the court verdict convicting Kumar, SAD chief Badal had said Congress's hand in the "massacre" of innocent Sikhs in the 1984 "genocide" had been proven beyond doubt with the Delhi High Court convicting (former) senior Congress leader and Gandhi family's "right hand man" in the anti-Sikh riots case.
Amarinder Singh hit back at the Akali leader, saying: "If Sukhbir was really concerned about punishing the guilty, why had he never raised the issue of the 22 RSS/BJP workers named in the FIR registered in the case at Tughlaq Road police station."
The Congress, including Rahul Gandhi, had never raised this issue as they believed that criminals had no political ideologies or affiliations, the chief minister said.
He said every case against any individual involved in the rioting would be taken to its logical conclusion by the courts, which did not need Badal's guidance in the matter.