After making a surprisingly spectacular debut in the Delhi elections last year, Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal are eyeing the state of Punjab which is due for elections next year. The choice of state shouldn’t come as a surprise as Punjab is the only state in India which gave the Aam Aadmi Party 4 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general elections. Icing on the cake is that the ruling SAD-BJP is facing anti-incumbency and with Congress still getting its act together under Captain Amarinder Singh (Who has strong chances of winning); people of Punjab are searching for an alternative.
In his one year tenure as Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal has been more in news for blaming the center and Prime Minister than his own achievements as Chief Minister. He is a shrewd politician and though he is new to politics he has learned the tricks in no time; so much that he can give the old school netas a run for their money. Neither does he shy away from talking about his ‘baniya’ caste while addressing the traders nor does he mind wearing a skull cap or a ‘pag‘ depending upon his audience. He has skillfully mastered the art of perception where he is seen as an anti-corruption crusader even after hugging and supporting a convicted politician like Lalu Prasad Yadav or by remaining mum on the National Herald Case involving the Gandhis. Of late he is emerging as a wile politician who is far away from the one that promised a ‘different’ politics in his campaigns. A farmer died in his rally while he continued giving his speech blaming the Delhi Police. An illegal slum was (rightly) demolished by the Railway Ministry but Arvind Kejriwal again blamed the centre thus securing his vote bank. He recently visited Hyderabad University to show solidarity with the ‘Dalit’ students who also happen to be sympathizers of a dreaded terrorist like Yakub Memon.
Earlier this year, Baijayant Jay Panda who happens to be the Member of Parliament from Odisha and is widely respected across political parties; tweeted something very intriguing. He of course did not name anyone in his tweet but one has to be really stupid to not to discover the underlying message in these 140 characters.
In Punjab, we are seeing an interesting yet dangerous trend where Aam Aadmi Party is cozying up with hardliners and giving fuel to the dormant Khalistani sentiments among them. The first signs of this came in 2014 when Arvind Kejriwal and AAP supported the protests by radical Sikhs for the premature release of Sikh militants. Dharamveer Gandhi; its own MP from Patiala said that his party is playing a “dangerous game”.
Somewhere in April 2014, United Sikh Movement, which is led by former Khalistanis like Gurdeep Singh Brar & Bhai Mohkam Singh have extended their full support to AAP. Bhai Mohkam Singh is the former chief spokesperson of the Damdami Taksal, the Sikh institute once led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. Baljit Singh Daduwal, radical Sikh leader even went a step further declaring that he would like to ‘publicly honour’ Arvind Kejriwal.
In November 2014, Sarbat Khalsa organized a mammoth rally in Punjab which saw lakhs of Sikhs attending the meeting. At this congregation, the dominant theme was ‘Struggle for a Sikh Raj’ and although no formal resolution was passed but the ‘panthic’ committee made the demand for the same subsequently. AAP’s Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chottepur supported this gathering saying it is an outcome of people’s anger against the government. However, SAD president Simranjit Singh Mann said “Sarbat Khalsa was a Khalistani stage and everyone knew it”. Former AAP leader Yogendra Singh Yadav alleged that AAP convenor Sucha Singh had supported all the resolutions adopted at the meeting (though he refused).
Last but not the least, we all know the infamous journalist Jarnail Singh who made news in 2009 when he hurled a shoe at P. Chidambram. But what many don’t know are his views on Khalistan and that he had addressed a rally in London in 2011 showing support for the creation of a separate Sikh state. Surprisingly, Arvind Kejriwal gave him a ticket in 2015 Delhi Assembly elections and he is today an MP.
‘Jab boya ped babool ka toh aam kahan se khaaye’ This wise saying by Kabir is the best advise for AAP. Indira Gandhi nurtured Bhindranwale for political gains, he became a nuisance and she lost her life at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards who were sympathizers of Bhindranwale. Benazir Bhutto as PM allowed the Taliban to grow and co-incidentally she was assassinated by them. AAP must take cue from history and introspect a little because they are literally playing with fire.
Insurgency in Punjab was one of the darkest periods in India. We had successfully ended it with the killing of Bhindranwale in 1984 but it’s on the rise again and the secessionist sentiment is slowly growing.There is a lot of funding coming in India from Sikhs in overseas; particularly in the United Kingdom and Canada for the Khalistani movement revival. Dal Khalsa, a separatist organization has recently supported Hurriyat’s call of boycotting Republic Day in Kashmir and want the same to be done in Punjab. This is eerily similar to what started in the 1980’s. It’s time we nip it right in the bud!