M A I N   N E W S

SAD under ‘pressure’ to field educated candidates
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 3
It is a sort of history that most of Akali Members of Parliaments have never uttered even a single word on the floor of the Lok Sabha during their tenures. The reason: majority of the Akali candidates were ‘illiterate’ or ‘semi-illiterate’.

Sikh intellectuals now have started lobbying for fielding educated candidates so that the case of ‘Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat’ could be taken up in right perspective. They said that the Akali MPs had failed to get the Operation Blue Star condemned in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha, apart from opposing POTA.

The exceptions are that of Sirdar Kapur Singh, a former ICS officer, Mr Ajit Singh Sarhadi and Mr Hukam Singh, a former Speaker of the Lok Sabha who took up certain issues of the Sikhs. One of the most memorable case taken up by Sirdar Kapur Singh in Parliament was that of making tehsil instead of village as unit of deciding the transfer of left-out Punjabi-speaking areas into Punjab.

The Akali leaders like Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and even Mr Parkash Singh Badal who had their stints as Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha MP remained docile in Parliament’s sessions.

The Parliamentary constituency of Bathinda had created a history of sorts by sending ‘illiterate MPs’ of Akali Members of Parliament. It was their good luck that despite their poor educational background, they had been winning with heavy margins. So much so Mr Kikkar Singh, a driver of Sant Fateh Singh, the then president of the SAD won from Bathinda constituency in 1967. Mr Dhanna Singh Gulshan who was ‘semi-literate’ was elected from Bathinda (reserve) became Union Education Minister. Mr Sucha Singh Maloa (who had humble educational background), father of Beant Singh — one of the assassins of Indira Gandhi during the general elections to Parliament in 1989 had failed to take up any case of the community or of his constituency on the floor of Parliament. Akalis, with poor educational background was Teja Singh Dardi or Mr Chetan Singh Samaon who were elected from the same constituency could not perform well in Parliament.

The ‘Tur family’ which had been given Akali ticket from Tarn Taran for their contribution to the ‘Panth’ could not bring any big project for the ‘Majha region’ which had elected Mr Mohan Singh Tur and his two sons Mr Lehna Singh Tur and Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur many times in the past. The history of Parliament could be traced to show their (Tur family’s) dismal performance in Parliament.

Mr Gurdass Singh Badal, younger brother of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had also failed to record his speeches in Parliament. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who himself became Union Agriculture Minister later preferred to resign so that he could take active part in the state’s politics.

Due to inability of Akali MPs to take up Punjab’s issues, the Congress Parliamentarian, Jagmit Singh Brar had earned the name of ‘Punjab di awaz’ by highlighting the issues of Punjab and the Sikh issues.

Though the SAD had sent certain MPs like Mr Harinder Singh Khalsa, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal and Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra but their contribution could be described as that of average Parliamentarians negligible. With this background, the Sikh intellectuals have asked the Akali high command to field highly educated candidates.

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