CHANDIGARH, India: The former Chief Minister and President of Akali Dal (Longowal) Mr. Surjit Singh Barnala are understood to have been offered the Vice President ship of the country by the High Command of ruling Congress party. In reply to this offer, Mr. Barnala has conveyed to the Congress (I) leaders that he is prepared to accept the coveted office if he is made as a consensus candidate by all parties.

Mr. Barnala told his close confidants that even if his candidature was accepted by C.P.I. and C.P. (M). He has a fear that B.J.P. will oppose him. It is reliably learnt that Mr. Barnala has also been offered some diplomatic assignment abroad. According to Punjab Observer, the Centre is trying to manipulate Mr. Barnala some executive office of position with a clear motive to use Mr. Barnala on the issues concerning Punjab, mainly the river water issue. It is reliably leant from Akali circles that before the imposition of President Rule, Mr. Barnala was fully assured that he will be adequately accommodated. Observer feels that Barnala’s soft pedaling of the Centre’s action is indicative of his thinking.

Meanwhile Mr. Barnala has denied the reports of such offers and described them as unfounded and mischievous.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 29, 1987