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Seeking Pardon or adding more “mistakes”?

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on December 14, 2018 with No Comments

The last assembly election in Punjab saw the then ruling party Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD) emerge as a failure when it was relegated to the third position. A dubious distinction of a sort, and over the last one and half years, SAD are moved from being a failure to a fiasco. Oxford defines the noun “fiasco” as “a complete failure, especially a ludicrous or humiliating one, and that’s was the party has landed itself into-humiliation.
Badals’ have been facing sharp criticism for the control of Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and even the Akal Takht. Their control over the two institutions came under scrutiny when in an unprecedented manner a pardon was granted to Baba Ram Rahim Singh leading to outrage. Their political acumen was questioned when the government and the party remained tight lipped over numerous cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the only action it took led to the death of the peaceful protestors who were asking for an enquiry . The indictment of Badals by Justice (Retired) Ranjit Singh Commission that was probing instances of sacrilege of holy texts had further put the Badals in a spot. When the report came up for discussion in the Assembly, the failure of Sukhbir Badal to participate in a debate on the issue on the floor of the House further added to the misery of SAD. In fact, this was the point when the old guard raised the flag of rebellion in SAD, with three senior leaders announcing their will to leave the party and finally announcing the formation of a new one. While announcing their resignations the three old guards registered their protest against the autocratic leadership style of former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s son and president of the party, Sukhbir Singh Badal. The three dissenting leaders in their own way, reminded the very principles on which the party was formed by stating that the new party would be based on Akali Dal’s original ideology of 1920. Problems for the Badals began with the fallout of the tabling of the report of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, set up to investigate the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib in October 2015, as well as the killing of two people during a firing against peaceful protesters in Behbal Kalan. Added to this was unhappiness over the fact that former Akal Takht jathedar Gurbachan Singh granted pardon in 2015 to the controversial chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, against whom the Sikh clergy had passed an edict for his allegedly blasphemous act of imitating Guru Gobind Singh in 2007.
Resentment against the domination of Sukhbir Singh Badal and Bikramjit Majithia, president of the youth wing of SAD, who is also the brother of Sukhbir’s wife Harsimran Kaur has been growing with senior leaders feeling sidelined in the party. The Badals found themselves to be facing a major trouble when they found that even common villagers have vowed not to allow entry of any Akali leaders in their villages. With the Aam Aadmi Party in disarray and the SAD in trouble, the Congress is the biggest political beneficiary. This also means that in the long run, there may be room for a new political outfit that could take up key issues pertaining to Punjab as well as the Sikh community. However, the Badals were first to sense an opportunity to grab and took their much charted way of going back to religion!
In order to seek atonement, an “akhand path” was initiated at Akal Takht. Besides Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal , former minister Bikram Majithia, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhal Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal, SAD core committee members, former ministers, MLAs, halqa chiefs and SGPC members were present. In the “ardas” it was read that during their (Badals’) stint, if “jaane/anjaane hoian bhulan” (knowingly or unknowingly mistakes) while serving the Panth or Punjab, they should be forgiven.
A welcome step, atleast the Badal family has realized that the party and its top leaders are facing anger from the Sikh community for their erroneous work during their 10 year regime. Hope they have realized that they have damaged the SAD and no one is ready to support them. And appearing before the Almighty is the only way to save their political dreams and careers. However, in this act has not gone well with the Sikh and Punjabis. As mistakes and sins are two separate things. Akalis have deliberately committed sins by engineering pardon to Sirsa cult head, shielding guilty cops responsible for killing two Sikh protesters at Behbal Kalan, hobnobbing with heretical cults and seeking votes from dera premis during last assembly polls. Portraying all these sins as small mistakes, itself is an another grave blunder on the part of Akalis, and it could see more of its voters getting alienated from it.
Also, Akalis can’t be accused and judge both at their own. If they want to repent or atone for their sins in true sense, let Akali leaders to do open admission of their sins and resign from their respective posts and leave the punishment or forgiveness aspect on the collective will of the Sikh Panth. The move to see apology at the Golden Temple seems more like a drama enacted for political gains. For seeking apology sincerely, one has to approach as a humble Sikh and not the way the Badals went about it- taking their big SUVs right into the four walls of the temple complex, and having a red carpet laid out for them by the SGPC. With their security guards taking their shoes into the langar hall, the Badals seem to have committed even one more “mistake”.

 

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