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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

‘He (Sukhbir) is a good man surrounded by wrong men’

Former (DSGMC) president Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who quit Shiromani Akali Dal and joined BJP tells that his former party is limited to Punjab and doesn’t have plans for the Sikh community outside the state, and that its leadership did not act time to prevent to prevent the farm law fiasco.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
December 10, 2021 7:34:59 am
Manjinder Singh Sirsa. (Source: Twitter/ManjinderSirsa)

Why did you leave the Shiromani Akali Dal, which counted heavily on you, to join the BJP?
The Akali Dal model is limited to Punjab only. It is not pan-India. My sole purpose to join BJP is to connect the Sikhs with the mainstream party [BJP] so that the community’s issues are resolved at national level and Sikh leadership could emerge at national level. Except for Punjab, Akali Dal has no plan for Sikhs living outside. Today, they [Akali Dal] have an alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party in Punjab and they want every Sikh in India to support Mayawati. Why should we support Mayawati in Delhi? Why every Sikh in Uttar Pradesh should support Mayawati?

Who do you hold responsible for this?
No individual can be blamed. It is because of the policies of Akali Dal. Why have the Sikhs been approaching me as chief of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee? Ideally, they should have approached the SAD president.

How do you react to Akali leaders’ comments that you were forced to join BJP due to cases against you?

They had to take a stand after I switched to BJP. They couldn’t have taken the stand that what Sirsa is saying is right. Secondly, if Akali Dal feels that I was forced to join BJP, I think this is the biggest defeat for Akali Dal. How can they ensure safety of the Sikh community, if their leader is not safe, and if they cannot do anything for me, even if, for a second, we believe that what they are saying is true? If it suits Akali Dal, then there is no party like the BJP and if does not, then BJP become anti-Sikh. You (Akali Dal) should not mislead the Sikh community. You simply say that BJP does not suit you [in the political battle] to rule Punjab. Also, Union Home Minister [Amit Shah] and party president [J P Nadda] themselves came to induct me into BJP. I am the first person in last seven years where Amit Shah himself inducted someone into the party and tweeted in that regard in Hindi and Punjabi languages. Will they induct someone in this manner after registering cases? I did not level any allegations before leaving SAD and joining the BJP because I don’t think that is a fair thing.

You greeted SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal on his birthday.
Sardar Parkash Singh Badal is an institution. Nobody can say that I was in a wrong party…
Do you think things changed in Akali Dal after Sukhbir Badal took control the party from his father?
Definitely, things have changed. But, as far as I was concerned, nothing changed for me. Nobody ever challenged my importance in the party.

What difference do you see in Sukhbir Badal’s leadership vis a vis Badal Sr?
I believe the main difference is that Parkash Singh Badal dealt with the issues in a different manner and besides persons close to him, he would also consider the opinion of a common man. This was his thinking. Second, the people who are calling shots now are not representing public. They don’t know about public perception or public demands and their thoughts. They don’t know what should be the level of a Panthic party as they don’t know what Panth is.

Are you referring to Sukhbir Badal?
No. Not Sukhbir, but the persons who surround Sukhbir and put pressure on (him while taking) decisions. He (Sukhbir) is a good man, surrounded by wrong men.

When you lost the DSGMC election, the SAD backed you and ensured that you were nominated as DSGMC member by the SGPC. After ouster of Manjit Singh GK, you were appointed as DSGMC chief. Akali Dal had been putting weight behind you. How do you see this?
My equation with the party was too good. I had best rapport with the party president. I never demanded anything. The party never denied my due right, which I deserved.

After repeal of farm laws, do you think SAD and BJP can come together again?
I do not know whether they will get together again or not. But, the reality is that, in case there is hung Assembly [in Punjab] as the circumstances suggest, or if there are chances of forming the government together, then as a natural alliance partner Congress will go with the Aam Aadmi Party. Congress cannot go with BJP and the BJP cannot go with AAP while AAP cannot go with Akali Dal. So, the natural choice is between Akali Dal and BJP and AAP and Congress, the only two combinations left.

How do you view Akali Dal’s stance on farm laws?
Akali Dal could have played better role at the initial stage or, I would say, there could have been better co-ordination and the [fiasco] could have been ended at the initial stage, at the time of ordinance. It is a big failure of Akali Dal. After all, the biggest loss was for Akali Dal.

Did you give any suggestion at that time?
I had called up Sardarni Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal and told them that we will not be able to stand with the people. I told them that we would not be able to face people. I was the first person. They can be asked [to corroborate] about this. When the ordinance was passed, I immediately called them up. I don’t want to blame them for that. But, this was a failure, a complete failure.

What is your role in Punjab as BJP leader in the ensuing election?
I will definitely have a role. I will fulfill any responsibility which will be entrusted to me. My subject is not only Punjab. My subject is that Sikhs are empowered on pan India level.

Is there any probability that you may return to Akali fold?
No. I have no fight with the Akali Dal, but I will work to empower Sikhs across the nation, which Akali Dal is in no situation to do.

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