SAD mulls returning to Panthic cause - ECAS Punjab

SAD mulls returning to Panthic cause

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Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 19

The Akal Takht Jathedar's call to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to return to Panthic issues has put a new challenge in front of the party amid the ongoing confrontation of Punjab with the Centre and preparations for the 2022 Assembly elections.

If the party follows the Panthic issues, it fears losing the Hindu vote and if it does not, then the need to consolidate Sikh votes in a likely multi-cornered political contest will not be achieved. The call by Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on the occasion of 100 years of formation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is at the same time being seen as an admonishment to the Akalis for straying from the Panthic issues in the past three decades.

The shift from the Panthic agenda in 1996 had coincided with the Akalis forming an alliance with the BJP. The re-focus sought by the Jathedar also coincides with the SAD parting ways with the BJP.

While the SAD leadership insists it never left the Panthic cause, experts believe the Akalis had taken a lot of anti-Sikh stances in the past two-and-a-half decades. Some leaders said the party had to obey the Akal Takht Jathedar and would take up Sikh issues with renewed vigour.

Ex-journalist and author Jagtar Singh said the party had moved to Punjabiyat and subsequent alliance with the BJP on the 75th SGPC anniversary function. "Now, on the 100th, there is a call to go back to the Panthic cause. The Akalis had left the main demand of the Sikh community of action against police officials who had misused authority during the terrorism era. It had not followed the demand for Punjabi speaking areas, safeguarding the Punjabi language, the Sikh identity and transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab with the same intensity as earlier. The statement by the Jathedar reflects the political compulsion of the Akalis to consolidate Sikh votes. The Akalis can only regain the faith of the community if they apologise for the mistakes they have committed in the past two decades or so."

Prem Singh Chandumajra, senior Akali leader, said the party had been raising Panthic issues but after the call by the Jathedar, the issues would have to be pursued with more vigour. "We will obey the Jathedar but for us, Punjab and Panth are the same," said a senior Akali leader.

from The Tribune

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