Uncertainty remains over Modi’s Anandpur Sahib visit

Chandigarh, June 15 (IANS) Uncertainty continues to prevail over the confirmation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab in connection with the 350th year celebrations of the Sikh holy town of Anandpur Sahib.

Thousands of devotees have started converging on Anandpur Sahib town, 85 km from here, which is home to Takht Keshgarh Sahib, the second most important shrine in Sikh religion after ‘Harmandar Sahib’, popularly known as Golden Temple, in Amritsar.

The main event is being held by the Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee June 17-19.

While Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal maintained that the prime minister has assured him that he would come to Anandpur Sahib on June 19, state BJP leaders said there was no confirmation of Modi’s visit.

Badal met Modi on May 29 in New Delhi and extended a “personal invitation” for the event.

Badal later in a statement claimed that the prime minister accepted the invitation and confirmed he would participate in the Anandpur Sahib event.

“The prime minister had accepted my personal invitation to attend the celebrations and assured me that he would be part of the glorious mega event. Extending invitation to the prime minister for such a mega event is a prerogative of every chief minister,” Badal told reporters near Phagwara town on Sunday.

However, president of the BJP’s Punjab unit Kamal Sharma has now claimed that there was no confirmation of the prime minister’s visit. “We have no confirmation of the prime minister’s visit,” Sharma said here.

BJP leaders claimed that Modi was to receive and meet a top foreign dignitary in New Delhi on June 19 and the Punjab visit was unlikely.

The Prime Minister’s Office has made no confirmation or denial of Modi’s Punjab visit this week.

Officials in the Punjab government, including those of Punjab Police, remained evasive on the visit issue.

The ruling Akali Dal and the BJP have been running an alliance government in the state since 2007. Relations between state BJP leaders and the Akali Dal top brass have seen some differences in recent months.

Anandpur Sahib town was founded in 1665 by ninth Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur. It was at Anandpur Sahib that the tenth Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, baptised the first five Sikhs and announced the birth of the Khalsa Panth on April 13, 1699.

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