With Prime Minister Narendra Modi playing busy, one of his ministers at last will have to release a commemorative stamp on the 1857 Kuka movement of the Namdhari Sikhs against the British.
Since September, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is also chairman of Kuka Martyrs Memorial Trust, was after Modi for inauguration, and now it’s union minister for communication and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad who will release the stamp on Wednesday in New Delhi. No one form the state government will attend the function, and the trust also will have only one representative in its vice-president, Surinder Singh.
Earlier this year, the Union government had agreed issue the stamp that will mark the 150 years of the movement, and the Punjab government and the trust had completed all formalities for a September-October launch. In September, after the ministry of communication and information technology published the stamp, Badal had written to Modi to request him to do the honours, but the PM had no time, which political observers now link with the deteriorating relations between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal that are alliance partners in Punjab.
“Since the stamp must be released this year only, it is up to the communication minister at last,” said a Delhi-based senior officer in the Indian postal department. Riding on the “Modi wave”, the BJP strategy seems to be to go it alone in Punjab as well. Some BJP leaders have even accused the SAD, of which Badal is patron, of promoting “mafia rule” in the state.
“A historic stamp must be released by the number-one representative of India, and that is the honourable Prime Minister. I earnestly request you to give a date for releasing the stamp in New Delhi so that the function can be organised accordingly,” Badal had written to Modi in late-September. The state had approached the Centre on behalf of the Kuka trust and even appointed a senior officer of its tourism and cultural affairs department to take care of the project.