CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal is facing the fiercest ever attack to his legacy in his autumn years. It is for the first time since 1995, when the five-time Punjab chief minister took over the party, that his politics and decisions are being questioned by his own colleagues.
But, more serious is the aspersion caused to senior Badal’s long political career. The sacrilege incidents have cornered SAD’s first family to such an extent that it is unable to cash in on Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s statement denying his party’s role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
All this is a fallout of the Justice (Retd.) Ranjit Singh Commission report on sacrilege cases which was tabled in the Assembly by the government. The report has put Badal and his son Sukhbir in the dock.
Besides former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar, senior Akali leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhinda, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Balwinder Singh Bhinder, Tota Singh and Sewa Singh Sekhwan have questioned Sukhbir’s decision to boycott the Assembly
The sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib dates back to 2015 when the Akalis were in power. Sukhbir was the deputy CM and also held the home portfolio when the first case of sacrilege was reported at Bargari village. The subsequent police firing shocked the state.
With his back on the wall after the report indicted him, the Akali patriarch was forced to come out and answer the charges levelled against him. His stern language at the recent Abohar rally temporarily silenced the senior Akali leaders, who were openly attacking Sukhbir, saying that party seems to be losing the battle of public perception.
For now, the senior Badal’s words have instilled some confidence among the middle-rung leadership of the party. “Guru Granth Sahib is dearer to us than our lives. We can sacrifice millions of Badals and another countless million of Sukhbir Badal’s, just to safeguard the honour, the dignity and the glory of the sacred Guru Granth Sahib. How can those who rolled tanks into the sacred Golden Temple and destroyed Akal Takhat Sahib even understand the purity and the profound depth of our sentiment and devotion to Guru Granth Sahib?’’ Badal thundered at the Abohar rally.
The 93-year-old has dared CM Amarinder Singh to prosecute and try the Badals in a court if there was any shred of truth in the allegations regarding the sacrilege issue. Time will tell whether the senior Badal will be able to salvage his seven-decade-long political career with honour intact, or the Akali veteran’s roar end in a whimper.