By Jagmohan Singh | World Sikh News
Curtains fall on a life dedicated to the Panth spanning six decades and more with the demise of veteran Sikh leader and ideologue Manjit Singh Calcutta.
Starting Sikh public life as a youth activist of the All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), Manjit Singh Calcutta dominated the Sikh religio-political scene with his excellent oratory skills, deep knowledge of Sikh history, a commitment to rejuvenation of the Sikh spirit amongst Sikh youth and a new orientation to Akali politics. Hopping from one Gurmat Training Camp to another across the country, he was a very popular speaker amongst the Gurmat Training Camp participants.
A close associate of veteran Akali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra, he was the secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for two tenures, during which period he made substantial contribution.
As he had ideological clarity, he often courted controversy as the established Sikh leadership and the media found it difficult to comprehend and digest his views.
He was a dear friend of all AISSF stalwarts and was known as a loving federationist. Surjit Singh Minhas, Dr. Santokh Singh, Makhan Singh and late Prof. Dalip Singh were his dearest colleagues. A family friend of Paramjit Singh Sarnas, he was omnipresent in his support during any Delhi poll.
Never to mince words, he stuck to a Panthic view point in the face of divergent views. A staunch critic of the Badal Dal and especially of the Badal family, he tried to do everything to dislodge Badals from power within the SGPC and the Punjab government, particularly after the Dal relinquished the Panthic agenda. In his enthusiasm to dislodge the Badals, he would go to the extent of supporting the Congress during polls. He was once a minister in the Badal cabinet.
He was a strong defendant of the original Nanakshahi calendar and would strongly criticise the Akal Takht Jathedar and others who had diluted the calendar and changed its course back to Bikrami.
This writer has had affinity with him and in recent years had spent hours discussing the case of the Sikh nation. As a student participant, I had the privilege to listen to his lectures on Sikhism, during Gurmat Training camps. His words, his immaculate delivery and his mastery of facts ring in my ears and those of hundreds of others who had the opportunity to listen to him.
I spoke to him some three weeks back, prior to his hospitalisation, regarding SGPC affairs and he said, “No one is listening. A new religio-political revolution is required for course correction, upheaval and Chardikala of the Sikh nation.” He wanted me to come to Amritsar to discuss measures that could be taken to put Sikhs on course. Alas! It was not to be.
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