Parkash Singh Badal. (File)
Asserting that all religions should be respected, former Punjab chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal Thursday said minorities have to be taken along to successfully run a government.
“It is a matter of grave concern that the present situation in the country is not that good. I will say that all religions should be respected and take along minorities, take along your allies if you have to be successful in running the government so that all brothers (countrymen) consider themselves part of a family,” Badal said.
He was addressing a party rally at Raja Sansi here.
“Governments and political parties must work to bring Hindus and Muslims as well as others in an embrace of love and understanding. We shouldn’t sow the seeds of hate. Hatred and bitterness should have no place in our public life. The atmosphere in the country should be such that minorities feel secure and respected as equal partners in the task of nation building,” the Akali stalwart said.
The remark come against the backdrop of criticism of the BJP, an old ally of the SAD, over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and plans to implement a National Register of Citizens. The SAD had earlier wanted Muslims to be included in the CAA, a legislation which seeks to give citizenship to the persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The Akalis, who are part of the NDA, even refused to contest the recently held Delhi Assembly polls after it was asked by the BJP to change its stand on the CAA.
“A government, whether at the Centre or in states, must be secular in nature. It is written in our Constitution that our country will have secular and democratic rule. Any deviation from the sacred principles of secularism can only weaken our country. Those in power at the state as well as others must work unitedly and tirelessly to safeguard, preserve and protect India as a secular democracy,” Badal said.
He said the governments and political parties must take lessons from Maharaja Ranjit Singh. “Among his top five ministers, three were Hindu, and one each Muslim and Sikh. He didn’t do it for votes... Foundation stone of Golden Temple was laid by Mian Meer, a Muslim. What could be better example than this. Guru wanted to give message of secularism. Along with secularism, there is socialism in form of langar (community kitchen) where everyone sits in the queue. The rulers have been forgetting such lessons. When we (Sikhs) pray, we ask for the ‘Sarbat Da Bhala’ - goodwill for all and not only of Sikhs or Hindustanis,” he added.
Earlier, talking about the political history of Punjab, he slammed the Nehru-Ghandi families. “Sikhs sacrificed a lot to help India gain freedom. Some promises were made. After Independence, our leader Master Tara Singh asked Jawaharlal Nehru to fullfil the promise, Nehru jailed him. Indira Gandhi attacked Golden Temple in 1984 and then her son Rajiv Gandhi allowed the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi. There has been efforts to weaken Punjab and Akali Dal from day one. We must understand this,” he said.
He also targeted senior leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who were expelled from the party, saying they were given every post they desired for but still they chose to backstab the party at the instance of “anti-panthic” forces.
“Party order is supreme. Once party asked me to tear apart the copy of constitution. I did not want to but went ahead because it was party order. Sometimes party take decisions with which you do not agree individually. But you have to follow the order. I can forget everything but I hate those who backstab the party,” said Badal.
His son and SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, meanwhile, said the people would not allow Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s move to “break” the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to succeed.
He also accused the CM of “befooling” the people by making “false” promises in the name of the ‘Dasam Pitah’ (Tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh). The SAD chief alleged that electricity had become “expensive” in Punjab due to the “mismanagement and scams” of the Congress. He added that Congress leaders had struck “underhand deals” with the management of the private thermal plants which resulted in a loss or Rs 4,100 crore to the state exchequer. Sukhbir claimed that power purchased at Rs 3 per unit was being sold to consumers at Rs 9 to Rs 10 per unit.