The recent unfolding of the Badal family’s inner wrangling has brought their sorrow out into the open. Manpreet Singh Badal represents a different mindset from the dynastic-family and has evoked a new hope in the Punjab that every politician is not the same. I daren’t say it is a new beginning – we don’t know how far this recent schism will take us – but Manpreet Singh’s interviews and public statements have generated a sense of welcome fresh air.
Yesterday, a lengthy interview in the Times of India newspaper was particularly interesting. He mentioned the speech of a great Irish leader and quoted that building a society on ashes and smoke is not easy. The long Irish struggle and the many sufferings the Irish people went through have many similarities with the Sikh nation’s pain and unfinished-unrealised aspirations. After reading his interview, I was wondering how thoughtful it would be of him to speak about his own people and how people of his age group, myself included, went through a long ordeal too.
The irony in Punjab is that we don’t have a leader of stature who is not shy to talk about our rich contributions and the long struggles we have endured. My only solace in this current political wrangling is that, at least for once Sardar Parkash Singh Badal has seen the sorrow that many Punjabis have suffered in recent decades; with his political legacy at stake, he will have to acknowledge how painful it is to lose somebody who is a part of him – the separation one feels within the family and the hurt that comes of brothers moving away from each other. I know for sure that he was not at pain when our Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht was torn down and crushed under the might of the Indian army.
History shows us many repetitions. The loss of pride within Sikh circles since the turmoil of 1984 has many types of fallout and that itself is the main reason the Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular are still wandering around aimlessly: struggling to re-emerge and find a sense of freshness with which to get back on the road to glory of past years.