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Will Congress be Able to Take a Grip on Sikh Political Space in Punjab?

October 10, 2018 | By

Chandigarh: Two months back the Congress party leaders, particularly the Sikh faces were presenting themselves as claimers of the Sikh political ground by presenting Justice Ranjit Singh Commission’s report in the state assembly.

The vacuum in the sphere of Sikh politics in Punjab is clearly visible as the credibility of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) has eroded amongst the Sikhs beyond doubt and there is absence of parallel credible Sikh political leadership at the moment.

Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa reading out a resolution in Punjab Assembly on August 28, 2018 [File Photo]

The Congress leaders were trying to grab that vacant space. But they wanted to do it through lip-service only as besides condemning Badals they failed to make their government to do anything substantial against culprits of Beadbi incidents, the police firing at Behbal Kalan or the even against Badals whose role in these incidents was identified by the commission.

Capt. Amarinder Singh [File Photo]

The Congress is stuck with its decades long dilemma. The party knows that Badals are able to keep Sikh politics under their grip through their control over the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee. Though meant for managing the affairs of historic Sikh Gurdwaras, the SGPC is a de facto mini assembly for any political player active in both Sikh politics and regional electoral politics. The Congress want to unplug the oxygen line of SAD (B) but at the same time it does not want to see any other group having Panthic credentials filling that space.

A report in today’s (Oct. 10) The Tribune quotes a Congress leader (whose name was not disclosed in the report) saying that “[t]he Congress wants to oust Badals from the SGPC, but not allow the ‘radicals’ to take over”. This ultimately leads to situation where Badals regain their position in the SGPC.

A view of Sangat outside the pandal at Bargari Morcha site on October 7, 2018

In this situation certain sections of the Congress party were trying to stretch their arms to enter into Sikh politics to ‘oust Badals form the SGPC’. But the October 7 popular upsurge at Bargari has changed the scenario. The unexpected gathering pointed that people are more connected to the core issue and are in search of alternative leadership. It, however, remains under question that how far any political leadership that may emerge out of this crude situation would be able deliver anything substantial on the Sikh issues?

A view of Sangat in the pandal at Bargari Morcha site on October 7, 2018

The Congress leadership is worried as the October 7 gathering has unfolded new dynamics in which Congress is at the risk of losing more than the Badals, who are already on the edge at the moment.

Recent reports suggest that sections of the Congress leadership are raising their concerns and even pressing the government to act in a visible manner but as the events of past two months have revealed the said ground is likely to slip away from the Congress party as its leadership lacks political will as well as the political ability to take stringent action against Beadbi accused, Sumedh Saini and the other accused police personnel and even the Badals. Moreover, a number of political aspirants are making their formations to present their parallel claim to fill the aforesaid political vacuum.

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