As poll battle begins, minister to Sikhs: Don't vote for BJP

With the BJP announcing that it will open its Delhi Assembly poll campaign on the birthday of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Tuesday, a prominent Sikh group, backed by the ruling Congress, on Sunday targeted the BJP and a Delhi minister urged the community to ensure the defeat of the BJP and its ally, the SAD led by the Badals.

At a convention of Sikhs in the city, the SAD (Delhi), which lost control of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee to the Badals last January, attacked the Badals for backing "a representative of the RSS which will always treat the Sikhs as a minority".

Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of SAD (Delhi), told the convention: "Sikhs who have migrated to Gujarat almost 40 years ago have won land cases there. Yet the Modi government has filed filed an appeal against them in Supreme Court. We want him to withdraw the case. It is shameful that Badal has called Modi a 'sardar'. Modi is a representative of the RSS which will always treat the Sikhs as minority."

The convention passed a 17-point and most Sikh leaders spoke on how the community was being treated by the Gujarat government.

Delhi minister Arvinder Singh Lovely, who also addressed the gathering, targeted Modi. "Our country is facing a challenge today. With the announcement of the BJP's PM candidate, not only Sikhs but every community is in danger. Your vote can impact society and shape the future of our community as well. I am participating here as a Sikh, not as a minister," he said.

Lovely urged the gathering not to vote for the BJP and SAD. Referring to the Badal family, he said, "One family wants to decide the fate of Sikhs in the country. And they have assumed their right to represent Sikhs across the country. I urge you to support Sarna so that Sikhism can be saved. I have had talks with my party before coming here and I can assure you that we will be there for the Sikhs."

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