New Delhi: There are reports that the Delhi Assembly Friday passed a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, conferred upon former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, alleging that he had justified the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom.

Claims vs counter-claims

As AAP and Congress are exploring possibilities to enter into an alliance in Delhi in the upcoming 2019 general election, the news came as a shock to many in both the parties. Soon its spokesperson and MLA from Greater Kailash Saurabh Bhardwaj denied the reports, saying, "Lines about late Rajiv Gandhi were not (a) part of (the) resolution placed before (the) House and distributed to the members. One MLA in his handwriting proposed an addition/amendment about late Rajiv Gandhi. Amendments cannot be passed in this manner."

Even AAP’s controversial MLA Somnath Bharti clarified in a series of tweets that the news is incorrect. He tweeted, "In connection with a dispute about a line on Sri Rajiv Gandhi in the resolution passed in assembly today, I confirm that the line was not part of original resolution distributed to MLAs…"

The scrambling of the party rank and file to issue clarifications was evident, given the chequered relationship between the AAP and Congress.

But that did not stop one of its own MLAs Jarnail Singh from claiming the opposite. He told reporters outside the Assembly, "He (Rajiv Gandhi) was justifying mass killings of Sikhs on the streets of Delhi. Such a person does not deserve Bharat Ratna. We demanded that Bharat Ratna for him (Rajiv Gandhi) be taken back. A resolution in this regard was passed in the House today."

Political slugfest

Sensing that Jarnail Singh was factually incorrect, BJP's Tajinder Bagga, who was on hunger strike for four days demanding removal of Kamal Nath (another accused in the 1984 Sikh genocide) from the post of the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, jumped into the fray. Bagga not only called Singh a liar but also accused him of hurting the sentiments of Sikhs.

Bagga demanded the resignation of Singh on this ground.

Sensing the situation going out of hand, Bharti clarified, "I further clarify that (the) amendment I proposed was not put to vote as an amendment n (sic) hence there is no question of passing the same. Hope this answers the dispute conclusively."

However, by then, it was too late. A mistake, that too on a sensitive issue of ’84 Sikh genocide, triggered a full-fledged political row. Talks of the AAP’s alliance with the Congress, the party largely believed to be behind the massacre, has upset the Sikh community in Delhi. The faux pas has made a dent in the mutual relationship between the parties concerned.

So, was the resolution passed or it wasn’t?

The AAP maintains officially that the resolution was not passed. It cites technical glitches to back its claim. However, its MLA Jarnail Singh claims the resolution has been passed.

Meanwhile, Alka Lamba added a new twist to the story, saying she had objected to the support to the resolution and is ready to resign from the party. Rumour mills are abuzz that Lamba may resign on Saturday.

On the other hand, giving us a completely different picture of the entire saga, Rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra claims that the resolution was passed and the AAP refusing to acknowledge it is an afterthought due to the pressure mounted on the party by an emissary of Sonia Gandhi. Though this claim cannot be independently verified, Mishra has uploaded on his Facebook page the video where the resolution was moved by Jarnail Singh and passed in the Delhi Assembly.

It's tough to say whether the AAP or Jarnail Singh — or, for that matter, Kapil Mishra — is saying the truth? More importantly, who is lying on such a sensitive issue? But one thing is beyond doubt. The truth is hidden beneath complex layers of political manoeuvring and is going to harm the AAP's electoral prospects.