The decision to skip an RSS event on Wednesday has eventually led to the resignation of the Delhi BJP vice-president Sardar Kulwant Singh Baath, and put under strain the alliance between the SAD and the BJP. The event, to celebrate the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh, was organised by the RSS Sikh wing, Rashtriya Sikh Sangat. It was attended by Union minister Rajnath Singh and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, but BJP’s ally SAD as well as Baath — considered close to the Akali Dal — gave it a miss.
SAD leaders said the Akal Takht — the temporal seat of Sikhism — had given a call for Sikhs not to participate in the event. In his resignation letter on October 25, Baath said he was stepping down since he couldn’t contribute to the party’s events and programmes in the past few days.
He said he was tied to a 2004 ‘hukamnama (edict)’ of the Akal Takht, which asked Sikhs to boycott events organised by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat. He added, “Unless the issue is resolved soon, this will be a tricky situation.” Baath had joined the BJP less than a year ago. Delhi BJP sources said he is close to SAD, but in his letter he said he has no plans to join the party.
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said no decision had been taken on his resignation yet. “The letter has been received but a decision on it is yet to be taken,” he said.
Last week, the Akal Takht had announced the boycott of the event, with Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh directing the Sikh community to abide by the 2004 ‘hukamnama (edict)’, which had termed RSS activities as a “deep-rooted conspiracy against the Sikhs”.
The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, formed on November 23, 1986, in a bid to bridge the gap between Sikhs and Hindus in the aftermath of the 1984 riots, describes itself as a socio-cultural organisation which aims to promote Gurbani among non-Sikhs as well, and organises community programmes outside gurdwaras.
Explaining a potential rift between the allies, a senior BJP leader said, “The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat didn’t get much traction after BJP’s partnership with SAD. But SAD’s defeat in Punjab made it clear that there is a need for local leadership to be groomed.”
An SAD leader countered, “There is a sense among some in the party that BJP and RSS are trying to enter Punjab by sidelining us.”