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Pardon to Sirsa dera chief was a mistake: Ranjit Singh Brahmpura

Face to face: In an interview to Hindustan Times from Vancouver in Canada over telephone, Brahmpura was candid enough to admit the mistakes.

punjab Updated: Sep 07, 2018 10:01 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sirsa dera chief,Pardon,Ranjit Singh Brahmpura
Ranjit Singh Brahmpura

Khadoor Sahib MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, 81, is a veteran Akali leader. And, few, except five-time former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, can boast of witnessing the ups and downs of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the past six decades. The former minister is a concerned man today due to growing criticism of the party from all sides over missteps during its 10-year rule (2007-17). In an interview to Hindustan Times from Vancouver in Canada over telephone, Brahmpura was candid enough to admit the mistakes, particularly the pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh that hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs, and advised the Akali leadership to seek forgiveness. Excerpts:

What do you have to say about the crisis that the SAD is facing?

We have faced such difficult situations before when people with radical bent of mind stood against us. The party has managed to overcome such challenges. This time, it is the mistakes committed by the party during its rule that also contributed to the present situation.

What are these mistakes?

I think the pardon given to the Dera Sacha Sauda chief (Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh) in 2015 was a big mistake even though it was withdrawn within a month. The issue could have been handled better. Also, the firing on protesters in Behbal Kalan after the incidents of sacrilege in which two persons were killed also contributed to creating a negative perception about us. The Akali Dal suffered because of the firing incident as religious sentiments were hurt. Even if the party or its leaders had no direct role in the firing, governments are blamed for such incidents.

You said things could have been handled better. How?

I can’t say much on that. I think if the senior leadership was consulted then, things would not have been so hostile now. The Congress government added fuel to the fire by getting an inquiry done and using it against us.

The pardon to dera chief was withdrawn by Akal Takht jathedar. Can the party be blamed for that?

The Akal Takht jathedar should explain what happened then and how.

What should the SAD do to deal with its worst-ever crisis?

I think the party leadership should go to the Akal Takht, the supreme body of the Sikhs, and collectively seek forgiveness. We should have no problem in seeking forgiveness as leaders of the Congress have, on different occasions, said that if summoned, they would not hesitate in bowing before the Takht.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjit Singh GK was recently attacked in the US. In Vancouver, what is the reaction of the local Sikhs when they see you?

I am on a personal visit. I don’t go out to deliver lectures here. I am clear about one thing that we should do politics only in Punjab. I am totally against using violent means and removing a Sikh’s turban.

Do you accept that your party’s core panthic constituency has drifted away?

All these issues are discussed during elections. However, there is no doubt that religious sentiments of Sikhs were hurt. I am sure the party will recover very soon.

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 10:01 IST