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Manpreet not allowed to hold public meet

Kahnuwan: Ousted FM finds the venue, a gurdwara, locked; calls it a ‘sad day for democracy’

Ousted finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal was denied entry into a gurdwara at Kahnuwan in Gurdaspur district where he was scheduled to hold a public function on Sunday. As he reached the venue, Manpreet found the gates of the gurdwara locked and a large number of policemen deployed outside.

Left with no option, Manpreet addressed the public outside the gates and returned “disappointed”, terming it a “sad day for democracy”.

This was his first ever public appearance in Majha region ever since he was suspended from the Shiromani Akali Dal and dropped from the state cabinet, following his statement to the media about the Centre’s offer on debt waiver. The gurdwara is managed by a local-level committee under the direct influence of Information and Public Relations Minister and local MLA Sewa Singh Sekhwan, a staunch supporter of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Furious over the incident, Manpreet launched a veiled attack on the top Akali leadership for trying to “mess up” his “people-to-people programme”.

Talking to The Indian Express, Manpreet said he was seeing the “varied shades of democracy”. Calling Sunday’s incident “unfortunate”, he said: “They stalled our programme, which has astonished me; but I was more pained to see common devotees return from the gurdwara without paying obeisance. This is not the way governments are run. The official machinery is being misused to gag the voice of opponents.”

According to reports, Sunday’s programme was planned by an anganwadi worker, Jasbir Kaur Saini, much in advance, when Manpreet was still a minister. On Saturday, she confirmed with Manpreet about his arrival and put advertisements in local newspapers regarding the function.

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