The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) calendar depicting the desecration of the Akal Takht, released on Thursday, has the political parties crying foul. Coming ahead of the general elections, the move is being seen as an attempt to whip up Sikh religious sentiments.
Even the BJP, the coalition partner of Shiromani Akali Dal which dominates the SGPC, has found this attempt to woo Sikh voters hard to digest. The Nanakshahi calendar features a blowup of a picture of bullet-riddled Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion.
The BJP finds the release of the calendar “unfortunate and not in good taste”. The Akal Takht came under heavy gunfire during operation Blue Star in 1984 in which troops stormed the Golden Temple to flush out militants led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
“This (Operation Blue Star) is now a history and, thus the issue should die down by now,” said senior BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia. “One should not rip open old wounds, especially at this juncture when elections are round the corner,” he said.
It was “a sensitive issue” for Punjab BJP president Prof Rajender Bhandari. The photograph should have been avoided, he said.
Congress leaders in Amritsar and dissident Akali leader Manjit Singh Calcutta maintained that the SGPC calendar was an attempt to woo the Sikh voters in Punjab, no Congress leader has yet petitioned the Election Commission on this issue.
Vociferous Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who never missed an opportunity to take on the Shiromani Akali Dal which backs the SGPC, chose to keep mum hiding behind an excuse that he had not read the newspapers as he was away in Delhi. “I cannot say anything on this till I see the news reports on my own,” Khaira said when asked for a comment.
Confirming that no individual or party lodged a formal complaint on the photograph, Punjab Chief Electoral Officer, Kusumjit Sidhu said she could not react on the issue until there was a formal complaint.