Many Akali leaders may be upset over references to 1984’s Operation Blue Star in L.K. Advani’s autobiography but Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has come to
Evading a reply on Advani’s reference to the storming of the Golden Temple complex, Badal said on Thursday that, “mediapersons are in the habit of posing questions without going through the concerned matter. They can convert an animal into a demon in no time.”
Later, Badal waved Advani’s book, saying that “we have the book and we know what is written in it... you people should not make an issue from a non-issue.” His son and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal asked media persons whether they had gone through the book.
Badal’s defence of Advani means that the Akali leadership would like to cap the controversy lest it rock the coalition in Punjab, which is dependent on the BJP’s support. Earlier, senior Akali leaders like S.S. Dhindsa had described Advani’s references as ill-timed and avoidable.
When a reporter drew Badal’s attention to page 430 of Advani’s book, Badal read out two paragraphs typed out on a separate sheet of paper. These paragraphs related to Advani praising the visit of former Prime Minister V.P. Singh to the Golden Temple in an open jeep in 1990s. “See... Advani has even hailed V.P. Singh for visiting the Golden Temple Complex and he praises everything that brings peace in Punjab,” Badal said.
Advani wrote in his book that “on May 3 (1984) Atalji, along with Charan Singh, led a contingent of demonstrators the next day. I raised the issue in Parliament, charging the government with abdication of its responsibility in the face of unprecedented challenge to national unity and rule of law... the Prime Minister was ultimately forced to use the military to liberate the Golden Temple from its anti-national occupants.” This was interpreted by the Sikh leaders as “justifying the army action at religious place in Amrtisar”.
The Badals were in the Capital to welcome the merger of Delhi-based Panthic Akali Dal with SAD, which they expect could give them lever to eject the pro-Congress management of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC). With the merger, the strength of the SAD (Badal) in the DSGMC has gone up to 20 in the 46-member House.