Sunday, May 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ground for Akali unity ready
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 17
Blueprint for unity between the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (Tohra) is ready. Before finalising a letter to be written to Jathedar Akal Takht, Mr Badal spoke to Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former SGPC secretary and confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra to finalise modalities for unity.

Mr Badal who was reluctant to write to Jathedar Akal Takht for unity with the SHSAD, however, told Mr Calcutta that he was for unity with Mr Tohra at the earliest. Before making any commitment, Mr Badal asked Mr Calcutta that whether there was any way out for the unity without writing to Jathedar Akal Takht for seeking pardon for violating ‘hukamnama’ issued by Jathedar Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh on December 31, 1998 which had directed the Akali factions to maintain truce till celebrations of tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth. However, Mr Calcutta told Mr Badal that the unity was not possible without his appearing at Akal Takht. Mr Calcutta made several attempts to bring rapprochement between Mr Badal and Mr Tohra in the past. It is learnt that when Mr Calcutta told Mr Badal that he was feeling humiliated as his efforts for unity were not bearing fruit. He (Mr Badal) categorically told him that this time he won’t let him down. However, when contacted Mr Calcutta refused to give any reply on developments.

After a joint meeting of the Dharam Parchar Committee and Sikh clergy at Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief held a meeting with Mr Badal at Chandigarh. It is learnt that Mr Badungar briefed Mr Badal on the decision of the joint meeting of Sikh clergy and the Dharam Parchar Committee.

According to sources, Mr Badal is likely to hold a meeting with his party colleagues after May 25 as he has left for New Delhi from where he would go to Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) by air to attend the marriage of a mediaperson. Mr Badal has also directed his press secretary and other staff to remain available on May 25 and May 26 at Chandigarh.

According to highly placed sources in the party, Mr Badal has already approved a letter to be written to Jathedar Akal Takht. The contents of the letter were drafted carefully for ‘face-saving’ of the Akali stalward. As per the information of this correspondent, the contents of the letter are: “respected Jathedar sahib, I have learnt that some persons had been spreading ‘disinformation’ that I (Mr Badal) had violated the hukamnama (edict) which is not true. I had read in the newspapers which gave an impression that it was the personal views of Bhai Ranjit Singh, then Jathedar, Akal Takht for maintaining truce among the Akali factions till tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth was over. I am a Sikh and a votary of maintaining Sikh traditions at all costs. Even then I am ready to obey any directive of Akal Takht”.

Though Mr Badal and his partymen had been trying hard that Mr Badal and Mr Tohra should appear jointly before Akal Takht yet SHSAD leadership said that it was SAD (Badal) which had violated ‘hukamnama’ by removing Mr Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh as SGPC chiefs and Jathedar Akal Takht respectively. Moreover senior leaders of the SHSAD brokering unity convinced Mr Badal that he would gain by appearing before Akal Takht.

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