Within hours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks on Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's absence at the main function to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by British forces, the Chief Minister on Sunday hit back.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu had presided over the function on Saturday afternoon at the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial in Amritsar to commemorate the event. Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore was present at the function but Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who paid homage to the martyrs at the venue on Saturday along with Congress President Rahul Gandhi, stayed away.
Taking strong exception to Modi's remarks made at a rally in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, Amarinder Singh on Sunday said that "dirty politics was being played over the sombre occasion of the Jallianwala Bagh centenary".
Countering Modi's attack on him over the Jallianwala Bagh event organised by the central government, Amarinder Singh said the Centre had deliberately chosen to hold a parallel event instead of supporting the initiatives and programmes of the state government.
"I had personally approached the Prime Minister several times over the last two years to seek support for ensuring that the centenary of the historic event is observed in a befitting manner but the central government had failed to respond suitably," the Chief Minister pointed out.
"Instead, the Modi government decided to hold its own event, quite evidently to score brownie political points in the backdrop of the Lok Sabha elections. This was truly shocking considering the fact that the Prime Minister was Chairman of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust," he said in a statement here.
"Shocked at your remarks in Kathua on Jallianwala Bagh @narendramodiji. You used a somber occasion to play dirty politics, conveniently ignoring your own government's decision to hold a parallel event instead of extending support to my government, which we'd been requesting for 2 yrs," the Chief Minister also tweeted.
"Unlike the BJP, the Congress leadership does not believe in dictating terms to its state governments," Amarinder Singh said, countering Modi's remark that he did not attend the central government event under pressure from his party high command.
Amarinder Singh also exhorted the Prime Minister not to exploit the martyrdom of the victims of the violence unleashed by the British during the freedom struggle or of the soldiers dying every day at the borders or in ISI-backed terror attacks such as Pulwama to further his and his party's political ambitions.
Condemning the Prime Minister for trying to mislead the people with this politically motivated falsehoods, he said it was Modi who had insulted the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh, first by not being present at any of the commemorative events and then by choosing to politicise the occasion.
Amarinder Singh said that all the necessary protocols were duly followed, including the appointment of a Cabinet Minister to be present at the Vice President's function on Saturday.