Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and opposition leader Sukhbir Singh Badal are fighting over, well — literature.
The chief Minister wants Sukhbir, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief and Ferozepur MP, to read Adolf Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf, a copy of which he sent across to the former deputy chief minister Wednesday to “understand the dangerous implications” of the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by the NDA government, of which the Akalis are a part.
In response, Sukhbir has offered to send across books to “refresh the CM’s memory” of how his party, the Congress, and its first family — a veiled reference to the Gandhis — “planned and engineered” the attack on the Sri Harmandar Sahib as well as mass killing of Sikhs in Delhi.
Taking a dig at the chief minister being a ‘Maharaja’, Sukhbir has also asked Amarinder to read the play Andher Nagari Chaupat Raja by Bhartendu Harishchandra to understand what his three-year rule in the state has come to.
The “literary slugfest” between the two leaders began over the opposing stands taken by the Congress and the Akali Dal over the the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Amarinder had, as part of his address in the recently-concluded two-day assembly session, referred to the Holocaust under Hitler and the events leading up to it. The chief minister had compared today’s India with Hitler’s Germany saying the CAA aimed at religious cleansing in the country.
The Punjab assembly had passed a resolution asking the Government of India to repeal the CAA. While the Aam Aadmi Party had supported the Congress, the Akalis had opposed the resolution. The Akalis had demanded that a resolution be moved asking the central government to amend the CAA, seeking addition of Muslims in the Act.
The literary slugfest
Amarinder had written to Sukhbir Wednesday explaining why he was sending Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which translates to ‘My Struggles’ in English.
“Apart from destroying Germany in World War 2, to fulfil his (Hitler) territorial ambition, from the time he assumed office in 1933 to the end of the war in 1945, his purification of the German race by his ethnic cleansing, led initially to the removal of his main opposition, the communist parties, followed by persecution of the intellectuals, and finally to the extermination of the Jews,” reads the CM’s letter.
“Read the book, as one always learns from history. The world has changed and our television and other media are powerful, and certainly different to that of Germany in the thirties under Joseph Goebbels,” the letter adds. “Nevertheless, the talk of camps and a national register to eliminate the Muslim and Jewish communities is ominous.”
Sukhbir said the chief minister had “once again” chosen the Gandhi family over the Sikh community by refusing to clarify if he supported the protection given to Sikhs under the CAA.
“Why has the CM chosen to learn his history lessons from Mein Kampf and not dozens of books written by Sikhs recounting the state-sponsored Congress pogroms detailing attack on Sri Harmandir Sahib and genocide of Sikhs in Delhi in 1984?” asked Sukhbir.
The SAD president said he would soon be sending across books written by prominent Sikh scholars on the subject.
“Please do give the books space in your library and read them also,” he said. “This gift of books could also force you to have a change of mind and forsake servility towards the Gandhi family and make you more sensitive towards the suffering of your own community.”
Sukhbir further said if all this did not help, he would recommend the chief minister go through a play taught in schools — Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja. “Probably you would find some affinity with the story seeing which way Punjab is going under your leadership.”
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