Ugly face of alliance with BJP that Akali Dal would not like to talk about


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, August 10: Akali Dal member of Lok Sabha from Anandpur Sahib Prem Singh Chandumajra today raised a significant issue in the Lok Sabha that otherwise is an irritant between the Akali Dal and the alliance partner the Bharatiya Janata Party. This is the ugly face of the alliance that the Akali Dal would not like to focus upon. The party otherwise continues to berate the Congress for the alleged discrimination to Punjab and the Sikhs. Ironically, the BJP is no better.

The issue he raised relates to Takht Hazoor Sahib at Nanded. The Congress would have been attacked for direct interference in the religious domain of the Sikhs on such an issue. However, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal prefer to look the other way.

Takht Hazoor Sahib at Nanded is managed by the managing committee constituted under Takht Hazoor Sahib Act, 1956. The Maharashtra government had earlier nominated BJP MLA Tara Singh from Mumbai as its chairman despite objections by the Badals.

Now the government has made another transgression. Two members on the board are to be MPs elected by the Sikh members of Parliament. However, the Maharashtra government has again opted for the nomination route. The only protest recorded by the party is the issue raised by Chandumajra in the Lok Sabha. It may be mentioned that Gurcharan Singh Tohra remained president of this board for years through this route.

Both Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were very clear on the handling of sensitive Sikh issues and they adopted the policy of non-interference. Going a step ahead, Sonia Gandhi directed then chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh against interfering in the affairs of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

However, the way the BJP government in Maharashtra has violated all norms so far as the management of Takht Hazoor Sahib is concerned represent the hostile face of the alliance. This is just one example of the unhelpful attitude of the BJP in general and that of the Narendra Modi government in particular towards Punjab and the Akali Dal. Badal can’t list a single instance of the Modi government showing special largesse towards Punjab. Badal now rarely meets the Prime Minister.

It is an uneasy relationship between the Akali Dal and the BJP and its future continues to be  speculated upon. The recent murderous attack on Punjab RSS second-in-command Brig. Jagdish Gagneja (retd) in Jalandhar by tow motorcycle borne assailants  has increased the worries of the Modi government about the deteriorating law and order situation in the border state.

The BJP earlier distanced itself from the drug issue after raising it vociferously. However, now the saffron leader has come under attack. BJP can’t escape the joint responsibility being part of alliance although its leaders have taken up the issue with the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister. Both the parties can’t afford a break up with Aam Aadmi Party adding third dimension to the electoral scene.

Chandumajra raised the sensitive issue but refrained from attacking the BJP government in Maharashtra. The party would have to take tough stand on the issues that concern only the Sikhs. The alliance can continue on a common minimum programme on which it was formed. Shiv Sena too is part of the NDA but the party has been aggressive on issues  at times. Shiv Sena has maintained its identity and independent existence.

Punjab has not gained at any level under the Modi government and it is time for Badal to revisit the equation and come out of this subjugation. The assertion made by the Akali Dal in the name of Punjab and the Sikhs might help the party in forcefully confronting AAP and the Congress.


Jagtar Singh


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