For making a mass base among Sikhs, who are traditional vote bank of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an offshoot of Hindu radical organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has inducted Panthic ideologue Rajdev Singh Khalsa.
The former Sangrur MP has been made in chagre of Malwa zonal unit of the party. Rajdev Singh had trounced SAD general secretary Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa in the 1989 parliamentary election here. In court recently, he represented Bikram Singh, a man accused of hurling a shoe at chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
As MP, he belonged to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), whose president, Simranjit Singh Mann supports the demands for Khalistan, a separate homeland for Sikhs. The Rashtirya Sikh Sangat is trying to steal the two issues - the release of Sikh prisoners and justice to families affected in the 1984 riots - that the SAD has been using to retain its Sikh vote bank. The move has surprised even Panthic leaders, as the Akal Takht has tagged the RSS as anti-Sikh organisation.
Since the formation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, the RSS is looking to build its Sikh vote bank by taking up many Panthic issues. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met the Rashtirya Sikh Sangat leaders lately, where its president, Gurbachan Gill, had asked him to free Sikh prisoners and give financial relief to the riot-hit families of 1984.
Of its 400-odd units in country, the RSS-backed Sikh party has 36 in Punjab, working on the mission of roping in Sikh support for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Before 2014, it had only 12 branches. Gurbachan Gill and his party's state president, Gurbachan Mokha, have the credit of inducting the former MP by selling him the party's ideology.
On the sudden change of heart, Rajdev Singh said he never had said anything wrong against the party or the Sangh. "They are working for Sikhism, so I joined them to bring more masses into their fold. I continue to support the hunger strike of Surat Singh Khalsa for the release of long-held Sikh prisoners and so does my new party," he said.
Mokha confirmed the induction and said it would strengthen the organisation in Punjab. "The RSS is firm on raising Sikh issues and resolving them, as we now have a government at the Centre, even though we have to no link with politics," he claimed.