SGPC row: BJP doesn't want Badal to take any drastic step

  • Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
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  • Updated: Jul 26, 2014 10:42 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) worried top brass is not in sync with the 'fight-to-finish' approach of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal against the Haryana government's contentious legislation to control Sikh shrines, it is learnt.

The BJP, alliance partner of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab, does not want Badal to take any drastic step, such as stepping down as CM, that could lead to a power tussle or a law and order problem in the state.

On Friday, Rajya Sabha MP and Punjab BJP affairs incharge Shanta Kumar and Gurdaspur MP Vinod Khanna apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the highly emotive politico-religious tussle unfolding in the border state.

Ever since Haryana formed a panel for the management of Sikh shrines in the state to break away from the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Punjab has been on the edge, with Badal himself leading the battle against Haryana. Badal's remark that he would do whatever is required to restore the SGPC's honour and authority has made the BJP think tank anxious.

In this backdrop, top BJP sources based in New Delhi say the saffron leadership has stepped up behind-the-scenes political efforts to defuse the impending crisis. In this connection, Shanta on Friday engaged key Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral and explicitly conveyed the BJP's "fears" and strong reservations against Badal stepping down as CM and spearheading the morcha (agitation).

Back in Punjab, state BJP chief Kamal Sharma met Badal, as directed by Shanta. Sharma was reportedly tasked with conveying to the CM that the union government was concerned and trying to find out a solution to this issue.

After frontline leaders of the SAD and SGPC vowed to fight a 'do-or-die' battle against the formation of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) and summoned a Panthic gathering on July 27 in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar to announce the course of action, the Centre has been trying to convince Badal that the Narendra Modi government "fully shares Badal's concerns."

BJP sources said Shanta spoke to Badal on Thursday after meeting union home minister Rajnath Singh.

Badal, whose SAD has been positioning itself as the sole representative of the Sikh Panth, told Shanta that Haryana's move was against the "Sikh Panth and not acceptable to him."

BJP sources told Hindustan Times that steps were afoot to prevent the possibility of the SAD-SGPC going ahead with its agitation and the CM resigning to lead this morcha.

"Our assessment is that in case Badal resigns, the agitation cannot be prevented. Thus, we are trying that Badal stays on as CM," a BJP leader said, pointing out that the BJP was fully aware of the "power tussle within the Badal clan."

Another of the BJP's worries, sources said, is that the law and order situation in Punjab could take a hit in the absence of Badal as CM and the dormant radical fringe could raise its head and spark off unrest, taking advantage of the ongoing row.

BJP sources further said: "We want the CM not to take the drastic step of stepping down under any political or emotional pressure. Even Narendra Modi described the Punjab situation as critical (samvedansheel)."

It is understood that the BJP has "very politely" conveyed to Badal its concerns and cascading effect on Punjab and the SAD-BJP alliance in case the CM announces any drastic step in Amritsar on Sunday.


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