Bringing flexibility to his stand, Takht Damdma Sahib jathedar Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh has become ready to negotiate with the group opposing the Nanakshahi calendar and end the dispute in the Sikh community.
The development comes a day after an impressive show of strength by pro-calendar group at the Akal Takht.
The United Akali Dal (UAD), a new group supported by radical Sikh leader Baljit Singh Daduwal, came into the picture on Friday in the role of a mediator. Its members met Nandgarh at his house in the evening.
After the meeting, Nandgarh told HT: “I am ready to negotiate with any group over amendments to the Nanakshahi calendar, provided its maker, Pal Singh Purewal, is involved in the discussion. I am hopeful that we can have a calendar that is acceptable to every Sikh and, at the same time, is also a symbol of their separate identity.”
On his describing the group opposing the calendar as agents of the RSS (Hindu radical organisation Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh), Nandgarh said: “I never gave any such statement. A section of the media twisted my words. My focus is on keeping the Nanakshahi calendar alive. I have no problem if the scholars from both sides keep its spirit while making the amendments.”
Sant Samaj to be approached too
Sant Samaj leader and Damdami Taksal head Harnam Singh Dhumma, who has been demanding the amendments since the calendar was out in 2003, now had asked for reverting to the Bikrami calendar. The UAD said it would try to bring Sant Samaj as well to the negotiating table.
“Our motive is to end the controversy. Though we favour Nanakshahi calendar, we just want all sides to be open to the amendments that are required. In our first effort, we met Nandgarh and got him ready for talks. We also came to know that his statements had been distorted to widen the rift between both sides. Now, we’ll go to the Sant Samaj, hopeful that a solution will be found,” said UAD general secretary Gurdeep Singh.
Radical Sikh leader Daduwal, known for his bitter relations with Nandgarh, also said he was in favour of keeping a Nanakshahi calendar fine tuned through dialogue.