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AAP does not indulge in 'politics of casteism', Punjab CM Mann says in attack on SAD, BJP

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Chandigarh, Jan 24 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday hit out at the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP, saying the AAP does not indulge in "politics of casteism".

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Mann's reaction came in response to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP questioning the Punjab government for not declaring a public holiday on January 22 (Monday) to allow people from the state to visit Ayodhya for the consecration ceremony at the Ram temple.

Calling it a matter of personal faith, Mann said, "The AAP does not do politics of casteism." Pointing to his mobile phone, Mann further said anyone could have watched the live telecast of the ceremony.

A holiday was not required to watch the live telecast, he said and added, "We already gave holidays in schools in wake of the cold wave." An idol of the new Ram Lalla was consecrated at the Ayodhya temple on Monday, a landmark event led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Lakhs of people watched the 'pran pratishtha (consecration)' ceremony on television in their homes and neighbourhood temples, becoming part of the historic event held just months before the Lok Sabha elections.

Mann also said, "Social bonding in Punjab is very strong." He claimed the Shiromani Akali Dal started calling itself a regional party and a party of the "panth" after it lost elections.

The Punjab chief minister also slammed the Shiromani Akali Dal for allegedly equating its election symbol with that of the scales of Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru, in an apparent reference to a recent statement by party leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

The Shiromani Akali Dal's election symbol is a weighing scale. The symbol is also associated with Guru Nanak Dev.

Badal, the MP from Bathinda, had recently said, "For us, this 'takkadi (the Shiromani Akali Dal poll symbol)' is no less important than the 'takkadi (scales)' of Guru Nanak sahib." Mann also questioned the silence of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief and the Akal Takht jathedar on the matter. PTI CHS SUN SZM

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