‘Basic right’ in Punjab, Catalonia: Punjab political parties reject Canadian Sikh leader Jagmeet Singh’s self-determination remark
Reacting to Jagmeet’s recent remark, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said that Canadian leaders should not meddle in India’s affairs.Updated: Oct 23, 2017 13:58 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Political parties in Punjab on Monday rejected Canada’s New Democratic Party chief Jagmeet Singh’s statement that he considers self-determination to be “a basic right” in the state.
Reacting to Jagmeet’s recent remark, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said that Canadian leaders should not meddle in India’s affairs. “They should mind their own affairs. We respect the sovereignty of our country. Punjab and our party are an unbreakable part of the Indian democratic and political system,” Cheema said.
During his introductory tour of Canada, Jagmeet, a 38-year-old lawyer and the newly elected leader of the NDP, last week said that he considers self-determination to be a “basic right” in places such as Punjab, Catalonia or Quebec. In equating the recent separatist movements to the demand for a separate Sikh homeland, Jagmeet is echoing the strategy adopted by hardline groups such as Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), which is spearheading the “Khalistan 2020 Referendum” effort.
“A separate state is the brainchild of a few Sikhs abroad. We rejoiced when you were elected NDP president but your views on Khalistan have damaged our aspirations.”
Cheema said the SAD never supported the demand for self-determination or Khalistan. “When we don’t interfere in Canada’s internal issues, why should they?” he asked the NDP leader.
Punjab Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) president Bhagwant Mann termed Jagmeet’s self-determination talk a part of his domestic politics in Canada. “We congratulate Jagmeet on his achievements in another country, but that does not mean he can say anything he likes or talk about self-determination in Punjab,” said Mann, who represents Sangrur in Parliament.
“India is a democratic country where everyone from a sarpanch to an MP is elected by the people. Punjab is very much its part. We swear by the Constitution. Punjab is the annadata (provider of grain) to the country. It has seen ups and downs but I am confident that it will regain its glory,” he said.
Former National Commission for Minorities chairman and former Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh said, “Sikhs living in Punjab and India have never demanded a separate state, which is the brainchild of a few Sikhs living abroad. We believe in the unity of India and want to solve all our problems through constitutional means.”
“Sikhs all over the world rejoiced when you were elected NDP president but your views on Khalistan have done great damage to our aspirations. It is better you confine your political views to Canada and don’t create any problem for Sikhs in India,” he said. “You are aware that we hold elections to our assemblies and Parliament regularly and Sikhs have been participating and electing their representatives. We had the privilege to have a Sikh once as President of India and also as the Prime Minister. A Sikh recently retired as the Chief Justice of India,” he added.
First Published: Oct 23, 2017 13:57 IST