Punjab elections: The embarrassing behaviour of ‘our’ jathedars

If there is a silver lining in what is otherwise a terrible result it is that though Indians have overwhelmingly voted in the Hindu Nationalist BJP, still the Panjabi people have rejected the politics of religion - GURNAM SINGH

Paramjit Kaur Khalra
By Gurnam Singh | UK | OPINION |

The defeat of Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalsa is due to the Badal Akali Dal refusing to step down and therefore splitting the Panthic vote in Khadoor Sahib. This further confirms that the Akali Dal has lost all credibility when it comes to representing the Panth; indeed, given their closeness to Modi and the BJP, we must consider them as a Hindutva faction within the Sikh fold. This also explains why the Sanantanist and Nirmala’s sadhus are 100% behind Badal.  Paramjit Khalra’s defeat is a serious set back for the struggle for justice and human rights in Panjab. It also perhaps shows how alienated voters have got from the Panthic  agenda.

There are many complex reasons for this  but I am convinced the main one is the embarrassing behaviour of ‘our’ jathedars, be they the Badal stooges or those ‘selected’ by the Sarbat Khalsa. There is a serious need for introspection for all of those who have concern for the prosperity of the Panth. If we are to engage in 21st Century politics, then we really need to project an image that we are sophisticated, serious and secular. Sadly, at the moment we come across as an illiterate rabble incapable of offering any serious leadership.

If there is a silver lining in what is otherwise a terrible result it is that though Indians have overwhelmingly voted in the Hindu Nationalist BJP, still the Panjabi people have rejected the politics of religion. Yes, there are huge levels of corruption and state brutality and yes, the media is not on our side, but I have to sadly accept my fellow Panjabis,  because of apathy, alienation or depression, have elected  the very same people that are responsible for their destruction.  It’s no use to keep blaming the RSS or anybody else; sometimes you have to take some responsibility for your actions.

As for the pro Khalistan candidate, Simranjit Singh Maan, he received a pathetic 2500 votes And lost his deposit. You can what you want of this, but I draw two conclusions; Maan is personally discredited and second, there is no appetite in Panjab for his version Khalistan.  The truth is that, and this is the only positive to come out of the elections, Panjabis are staunchly secular. What we need now is to mobilise the masses and build a grass roots secular Panjabi Nationalist movement where all sections of the community are represented. Its agenda must be 100% secular and its main policy programme should be based on the Anandpur Sahib Matta and the 20:20 Panjab referendum. The people behind the 20:20 referendum should make it clear that they are a secular movement for Panjab liberation and  that their aim is to establish a secular social democratic independent state, where equality and ecology with the mainoriority. We must not obsess over the name of our independent Panjabi nation state, as this is of minor significance.

In terms of the future if the Panth, I think we need to concentrate on building global Sikh institutions, such as the World Sikh  Parliament and as for our struggle in Panjab, this should be focussed on establishing a Panjab Referendum. The other alternative is to carry on as we are and  spend the next 35 years  shouting slogans whilst what is left of the Panjab, its land, people, language and culture is totally obliterated.

[Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is a Visiting Fellow in Race and Education at University of Arts London and a Visiting Professor of Social Work at University of Chester as well as a presenter at UK-based Akaal channel. This views were shared on his Facebook page]



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