Conflict between Sant Bhindranwale and the Sharomani Akali Dal

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-A. R Darshi

 

Dam Dami Taksal was founded by Guru Gobind Singh in 1704-1705 when he had temporarily settled atTalwandi Sabo. District Bhatinda after his last battle fraught with the Mughal troops at Mukatsar. Baba Deep Singh was installed as the first Jathedar of the Taksal. The Baba sacrificed his life near Amritsar while fighting Ahmed Shah Abdali troops in order to free Harmandar Sahib from their occupation. Thus the first Jathedar of the Taksal laid down his life defending the holy shrine.

Sant Gurbachan Singh. who had baptised Jarnail Singh and accepted him as his disciple, was the twelfth Jathedar of the Taksal in succession. When Sant Gurbachan Singh passed away in 1969 Jarnail Singh was barely twenty two, and before his demise he had appointed Kartar Singh as his successor but the Akali government, led by Justice Gurnam Singh, wanted to plant their own man. Mohan Singh, as the Jathedar of the Taksal. Because of this conflict Sant Kartar Singh was not allowed to attend the last rites of the deceased Jathedar held in village Bhinder Kalan, the headquarters of the Taksal.

In spite of hurdles created by the alkali government the Taksal installed Sant Kartar Singh as its thirteenth Jathedar in accordance with the wishes of Sant Gurbachan Singh. This obstructive attitude of the government created bitter feelings in the mind of youthful Jarnail Singh who had witnessed the unpleasant incident. When Sant Kartar Singh met with a fatal accident near Ludhiana city in July 1977, in the prime of his life, and succumbed to his injuries in the Christian Medical Hospital there, a question of his successor again tantalized the Akali Dal who were incidentally again reigning in the Punjab at that time too, they wished to have their own trusted man at the helms of affairs of the Taksal but they did not create much of the fuss about it, perhaps remembering the last bitter experience The Taksal, therefore, according to the wishes of Sant Kartar Singh, installed Jarnail Singh as the Jathedar who was then hardly thirty years old.

This was the second futile attempt made by the akali leadership to meddle with succession of the Taksal. It further embittered the feelings of Sant Jarnail Singh and therefore he lost all trust in the Akalis. The Akalis too did not trust him and thus this mutual distrust created a cleavage between them which ultimately resulted in a conflict. Intra contradictions among Akali leaders Beside a simmering conflict between the Akali leadership and Sant Bhindranwale the former too, was afflicted with Intra contradictions.

Immediately after emergency was lifted in January 1977, Parkash Singh Badal.\, Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Jagdev Singh Taiwanda had emerged as the main pillars of the Akali Dal. They held a conclave and reached an agreement that after the elections to constitute Lok Sabha and Punjab Legislative Assembly. Racial would join the Central government.

TaIwandi would be elevated to the post of President of Akali Dal and Tohra would become Chief Minister of Punjab. The trio successfully contested elections to the Lok Sabha and became members of Parliament in March 1977. Hurriedly formed Janata Party, which included political organizations professing divergent ideologies, won the majority seats and formed the Central government. The Akali Dal being one of the constituents of Janata Party was a part of the coalition government.

According to the agreement reached between the triumvirate Badal joined the government at Delhi and Talwandi was elevated the post of President of Akali Dal. Only Tohra, who was President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, was left to be raised to the office of the Chief Minister of Punjab. But Parkash Singh Badal was not sincere to implement the agreement mentioned above. In fact he longed for the chair of the Chief Minister and that he could achieve only at the cost of Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Not bothering about the breach of trust he secretly conspired to fulfill his cherished desire by hook or by crook. In order to succeed in his selfish plan he feigned illness and expressed his inability to continue as the Union Minister. He pretended that climate of Delhi did not suit him. He gave wide publicity to his feigned illness through his courterie as well as the media. But he could not accomplish his task without the support of Talwandi, the third party to the agreement. Talwandi, who did not see eye to eye with Tohra at the time.

In fact was close to Badal, and therefore he readily agreed to render him support. Tohra was totally unaware of that secret plan. Badal, while at Delhi, played a trick. He requested Talwandi to contact Tohra and inform him of his feigned illness and that he should call upon him to enquire about his deteriorating health. In good faith, Tohra visited Badal’s residence where Talwandi was already present.

There he was coned and tricked in and was thus prevailed upon to meet Badal’s request. Tohra willingly or unwillingly sacrificed the chair of Chief Minister mainly for sake of unity of the Akali Dal. It was greatness on the part of Tohra as he had shown magnanimity in not insisting upon implementing the unanimous agreement reached between the triumvirate. However such type of unity, based on insincerity on the part of one party could not be expected to be maintained for long, true unity required mutual trust but that trust was violated by Parkash Singh Badal. As the luck would have it, cordial relations between Badal and Talwandi did not last long. They were badly strained in about two years of Badal’s come back. The latter also failed to befriend Tohra, rather his wrong policies and arbitrary decisions annoyed him further. Thus both Tohra and Talwandi joined hands together and launched a concerted offensive against Badal in order to   seek his ouster. With this aim in view they submitted a joint memorandum to the Jathedar of Akal Takht leveling serious charges against Badal for his destructive actions, which could wreck the unity of the Akali Dal. Besides, Prem Singh Lalpura, General Secretary of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and lieutenant of Tohra, also presented a similar charge sheet against Badal to the Governor of Punjab.

Jaswinder Singh Brar and Randhir Singh cheema. But both cabinet ministers and supporters of Talwandi, also resigned in protest. They too charged Badal of corruption and nepotism. When this cut throat struggle reached the climax Badal weaned away Tohra and Talwandi was left in the lurch. He nevertheless continued his struggle against Badal and fought it to the bitter end till he was outnumbered and dislodged from the president-ship of the Akali Dal in 1980. He was replaced by Harchand Singh Longowal a spineless man, who had been brought from obscurity to the center stage during the emergency. Such a pliable man and a novice in politics, suited Badal and his supporters the most.

Jagdev Singh Talwandi, known for his determination and steadfastness, formed Akali Dal after his own name and started agitation on the Baisakhi day of 1981 in Delhi with one demand, that is, realization of Anandpur Sahib Resolution, which was so fondly adopted by the Akali Dal in October 1973 but was conveniently forgotten by them after forming their government in Punjab Talwandi flouted the prohibitory law and courted arrest along with his supporters in Delhi and remained confined in Tihar dad there till Sant Bhindranwale met him and persuaded him to join the mainstream.

Jathedar of Akal Takht also issued Hukamnama (edict) directing all Akali factions to merge. Thus Taiwandt was left with no alternative but to disband his Akali Dal and merge it with the main Part! This was the politico-religious scenario that was emerging in Punjab in the late 1970s. In spite of infra contradictions prevailing among the Akali leaders they were confronting against Bhindranwale on all fronts and the latter did not take the challenge lying down.

Indira Gandhi and Darbara Singh, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, were both out of power and therefore they were using all wicked tactics to regain power. Their deliberate acts of omission and commission especially in relation to Punjab, worsened the situation and complicated it further. It is in this perspective that the future ominous developments in Punjab are to be viewed and reviewed. In the proceeding pages effort would be made to depict the future assessment of the politico-religious developments in Punjab.

But one more factor fraught with danger is to be taken into account. That factor is acute rivalry between Darbara Singh and Giani Zail Singh, both wily Sikh Congress leaders of Punjab. In order to grind their own axe and dominate Punjab scenario they tried to outwit each other in playing dirty politics.

Indira Gandhi made Giani Zail Singh the Union flume Minister and Darbara Singh was appointed as the chief minister of Punjab, in June 1980. Although, she knew that fierce rivalry existed between these two stalwarts of the Punjab congress yet she deliberately pitched them against each other Giani Zail Singh as home Minister, employed all tricks to destabilize Darbara Singh. Which ultimately led to his dismissal. None the less their mutual fierce enmity further aggravated the already complex political situation in Punjab. It was but natural therefore expect that such a grave complexity of political scenario would one day implode and explode with full force.

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