CHANDIGARH: Commuting the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana who killed former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh in 1995, deciding to release eight Sikh prisoners and removing the names of 312 Sikh foreign nationals from the blacklist is being seen as an endeavour of the BJP-led NDA Government to derail the 'K2' (Kashmir and Khalistan) plan of Pakistan and win over the Sikh hardliners to create a space for the saffron party in Sikh politics.
The move, say experts, is aimed at going solo in the 2022 assembly elections and bidding goodbye to the 23-year-old alliance with its oldest ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Talking to this correspondent, political expert, Kuldeep Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar says, "In the larger context, this move by the BJP-led NDA government will weaken the element who try to appeal to Sikhs in militant terms and in the process will strengthen moderate elements. If the BJP has a larger political agenda in Punjab then they cannot achieve it without Sikhs who constitute 60 per cent of the population. Therefore it can be a strategy to win over Sikhs in general in Punjab. If the BJP is to contest elections in Punjab independently of the Shiromani Akali Dal, then they also need a support base which is independent of their ally,’’ he says.
The move on Rajoana and eight Sikh prisoners comes just two weeks after the Sikh blacklist was slashed. For the BJP, snapping ties with the Akali Dal will not be easy. The saffron party is using former bureaucrats Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri and SS Channy to reach out to the Punjabi diaspora and the party’s Sikh faces are RP Singh and Harjit Grewal.
Sikh hardline group Dal Khalsa’s General Secretary, Kanwarpal Singh says, "The BJP won’t succeed in its designs or able to obtain any political dividends out of it. Because there’s a deep-rooted mistrust between them and the Sikhs. Apart from the likes of Badals, who are known as stooges of the saffron party, the Sikhs at large don’t trust the Hindutva group.’’
He went on to claim that there’s no K2 plan as such, it’s only a far-fetched imagination of intelligence agencies.
"After the abrogation of Article 370, Sikh and Kashmiri diaspora have joined hands to vociferously oppose the Union government’s onslaughts on Kashmiri people. And this unity stems from the basis that the government is a common oppressor of both Sikhs and Kashmiris,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Jesse Singh, Chairman of Sikhs of America, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said, "When we met PM Modi in Houston, he reminded us that one of our demands from the 2014 memorandum will soon be answered.’’