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Prez, PM accept Capt invite for Sultanpur Lodhi event 

New Delhi, October 3

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi today accepted Punjab Government’s invite to attend the official celebrations of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary at Sultanpur Lodhi in November. The acceptance was conveyed at meetings Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had with the President and PM today to apprise them of the events the state government had planned around the upcoming opening of the historic Kartarpur corridor connecting Dera Baba Nanak Gurdwara in Gurdaspur with Darbar Sahib Gurdwara on the Pakistani side. Former PM Manmohan Singh has also agreed to be part of the first group of pilgrims the Punjab CM will lead through the corridor when it opens. The CM, however, clarified neither he nor the ex-PM would travel to Pakistan for the formal opening of the corridor. They were only going to the Sikh shrine on the other side “as pilgrims”. The Pakistan government had recently announced it would invite Manmohan for the corridor inauguration but the ex-PM’s office denied knowledge of any such invitation.

Today’s developments are crucial in the light of ongoing political one-upmanship between Congress-led Punjab Government and the Akalis over marking the historic event.

Capt Amarinder’s move to secure President and PM’s presence at the state function are bound to put pressure on the Akalis to come on board. 

Asked about SGPC’s celebration plans, CM’s spokesman said: “The CM has repeatedly said the SGPC as a religious body is free to organise celebrations in gurdwaras and the official celebrations will be marked by the state government. The CM has repeatedly urged all-party unity and will lead an all-party group through the corridor.”

State government sources added they were not aware if the SGPC would send a parallel jatha through the corridor.

Pakistan recently announced that the corridor would be opened for Indian Sikh pilgrims on November 9. However, the final date is still being worked out between the two countries and the Punjab Government’s official event will be planned accordingly.

Capt Amarinder, meanwhile, shared official programme of his government’s events with the President and PM. “The CM has urged both to participate in the corridor opening at Dera Baba Nanak and the main programme at Sultanpur Lodhi,” the CMO spokesman said.

Capt Amarinder also urged PM’s intervention to allow a 21-mebmer all-party jatha to visit Sri Nankana Sahib, the birth place of the first Guru, besides bringing a nagar kirtan to Sultanpur Lodhi via Amritsar (Wagah).

In a separate letter to Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, the CM has sought formal clearance for the Nankana Sahib delegation visit and the nagar kirtan.

The Punjab Government plans various celebrations between November 5 and 15 and will hold an all-party meet at Sultanpur Lodhi on November 1.

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