The Shiromani Akali Dal leadership led by party patron Parkash Singh Badal offered prayers Saturday at Akal Takht, the supreme temporal body of Sikhs, to seek atonement for the “mistakes” it committed “inadvertently” in the past.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ridiculed the party for indulging in “political theatrics” in the name of religion with their “farcical” display of regret over the “misdeeds” committed during their 10-years of misrule.
The SAD had faced severe criticism over several incidents pertaining to desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and following police firing incidents in 2015 that had taken place during the SAD-BJP regime.
The party was also eye of storm over the issue of granting pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 2007 blasphemy case, which was later withdrawn by Akal Takht.
Badal refused Saturday to comment on what the party was seeking forgiveness for. He said he would answer all media queries on Monday after the ‘bhog’ ceremony of ‘akhand path’, a continuous recitation of religious hymns, at Gurdwara Gurbaksh Singh.
“We are not going to talk for three days,” Badal told reporters here.
SAD leaders, including party chief Sukhbir Badal, his wife and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Bikram Singh Majithia, Bibi Jagir Kaur performed ‘sewa’ by cleaning shoes, washing dishes and making chappatis at the Golden Temple’s community kitchen.
At the time of ‘ardas’ at Akal Takht, the Badal family was accompanied by senior party leadership, including SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal, party spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema, MP Balwinder Singh Bhundar, SGPC members, former ministers, MLAs and Halqa in-charge.
In the core committee meeting held in Chandigarh on Thursday, the SAD had decided to seek forgiveness from Akal Takht for “any inadvertent mistake” committed during the 10-year regime of the SAD-BJP.
The chief minister pointed out the timing of the apology.
He said, “It has come at a time when they are at the centre of criticism over various serious and sensitive issues, including the desecration and police firing cases of 2015 and the issue of pardon granted to Ram Rahim Singh.”
“The Badals know very well what were the mistakes they had committed during their tenure and yet had chosen to call their misdeeds any inadvertent errors,” Amarinder Singh said, flaying the Akali leadership for once again taking refuge in religion to further their political interests.
It was obvious that the Badals had their eyes on the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and the apology “drama” had been enacted for that purpose, the chief minister said.
AAP leader and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann lashed out at the Badals for trying to “befool” people of the state by “creating drama” of seeking apology for their past mistakes.