Just when you thought that Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) couldn’t present their departure from Sikh values with any more gravity, Cabinet Minister Bikram Majithia has been recorded altering a line of a popular Sikh hymn… to promote the election campaign of BJP candidate Arun Jaitley.
Bikram Majithia is presently the Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister in the SAD-led Punjab State Government. He is also the President of the Akali Youth wing and brother of Harsimrat Badal who is married to Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister and SAD President Sukhbir Badal. Majithia is no stranger to controversy having been named by Punjab drug lord Jagdish Bhola as party to his criminal racket; on another occasion previously he used abusive language towards a fellow Parliamentarian whilst speaking in the State Assembly; and most recently during the current election campaign he has become embroiled in a less-than-complimentary spat with Congress Party candidate Captain Amrinder Singh.
But his speech earlier today during a BJP rally at the Shaheed Udham Singh Hall in Amritsar (see below), has gone beyond anything that has previously been seen from the outspoken extended member of the Badal household. He growled ferociously in his usual style for the gathered supporters to repeat after him a popular shabad – ‘Deh shiva bar mohe eh hai’ – and as he reached the culmination of the second line he changed it to reflect support for Arun Jaitley, the well-known BJP executive member who is standing as a candidate in Amritsar at the current elections. The line should read, “Na daro arr seo jab jaye laro nischey kar apni jeet karo” – in which Majithia changed ‘apni’ to ‘Arun Jaitley’.
The sad truth is that despite this gross misrepresentation of a much-loved Sikh hymn to serve his and his party’s own purposes, there will be limited consequences for Majithia and SAD. Over the last forty years, the Akalis have manouvered themselves into a position whereby they not only control the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which administers historic places of Sikh importance (including the Darbar Sahib at Amritsar), but also the highly revered position of Akal Takht Jathedar. It is common knowledge that where matters of conduct are concerned, the Jathedars of the five Takhts have all become subservient to the orders that come from SAD, in particular Punjab’s Chief Minister Parkash Badal.
Further still, such is the Akali power and influence over Sikhdom globally that it is unlikely they will suffer any more ignominy than has already been thrust their way. Recent years have proven that Sikh ire towards any wrongdoing in the Panth lasts at best for a few weeks (think #iPledgeOrange, death sentence for Professor Bhullar, Gurbaksh Singh’s fast) and this is largely a success of not only the SAD infiltration into every facet of the Sikh way of life, corrupting and contorting it, but of a battle to change what Sikhi is and stands for that first bore fruit almost two hundred years ago in the Punjab. We the Sikh masses are either incapable or unwilling to comprehend our true selves, which if we recognised would present the answer to problems posed by the ruling elite both in Punjab and in the countries that we call home worldwide.
However in the absence of that, I envisage that this incident will pass once more supplemented by irate commentary on our part and perhaps some conciliatory measure from SAD and if anything it will strengthen their hand reminding them of the unfettered power that they hold over Sikhdom. The correct response to Majithia’s speech today is to remove from power the authority of an SGPC which was dissolved at the last Sarbat in 1986, to oppose at every opportunity the political architects of Punjab’s downfall (be they SAD, Congress or any other) and above all else to look within ourselves and bring to the fore the Khalsa we have been waiting for, in front of whom the Majithias of this World daren’t utter a single word.