The high profile revenue minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, may have commenced and completed his 'tankha' (religious punihsment) at two of the Sikh Takhts, but certain sections, including his political rivals, have criticised him for lack of 'humility' while performing the 'sewa' (voluntary service) at Takht Keshgarh Sahib and Takht Damdama Sahib.
However, the Majithia camp has rejected this criticism, saying that it was just politically motivated and that the minister went to the two Takhts not in his capacity as a minister but as a humble Sikh.
The minister's media advisor Sarchand Singh said that it was unfortunate that some persons were 'using' religion to settle their political scores which they could done in the political field.
On the contrary, former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) secretary, Manjit Singh Calcutta, while talking to HT here on Wednesday, said, "When you are awarded 'tankha', you must perform it with humility. But Majithia seemed to carry the ministerial tag with him to the two Takhts, which is not wrong, but still as a Sikh he could have shed aside the 'sarkari' tag".
He pointed out that former governor and senior Akali leader, Surjit Singh Barnala, and former union minister and Congress leader, Buta Singh, who were both excommunicated, performed the 'tankha' awarded to them with a "great deal of humbleness". Both received far severe 'punishment' from the Akal Takht than Majithia and yet they went about performing their respective tasks with dedication, he added.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) general secretary, Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majithia, claimed that "official patronage" was extended to the minister at the two Takhts. In this context, he pointed to the rescheduling of the 'kirtan' at Takht Damdama Sahib just to suit the minister.
"Had he gone as a humble Sikh, he would have spent the entire day at one Takht. He seemed to be in a hurry to finish off his task which questions his very dedication and respect for the Akal Takht which had awarded him the tankha Lalli", Lalli Majitha said while addressing a press conference.
Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh felt that Majithia was defying and defeating the very spirit of 'tankha' and making mockery of the punishment. "He is totally politicising the issue and trying to take mileage out of it", he claimed while pointing out that the minister displayed no humility as he could not set aside his "VVIP mentality".
Kanwar Pal has asked the Akal Takht to seek an explanation from the management of Takht Damdama Sahib for rescheduling the 'kirtan' .
Regarding criticism of Majithia for having taken some of his supporters to the two Takhts, Sarchand said, "They are all like his family members and there is no harm if they accompany him".
Majithia had dusted shoes of devotees, cleaned utensils at the 'langars' (community kitchens) and listened to prayers at the two Takhts on Tuesday as part of the 'tankha' awarded to him for 'religious misconduct' of distorting a hymn from 'gurbani'.
Now he will perform the same task at Takht Patna Sahib and Takht Hazoor Sahib, Nanded before coming to the Akal Takht for atonement of his offence.
SGPC CHIEF'S VERSION
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar, when questioned about the rescheduling of the 'kirtan' at Takht Damdama Sahib, said, "I cannot comment on this issue as it is not in my jurisdiction. You can ask the Takht Damdama sahib jathedar".