Chandigarh:Mixing of politics with religion means a death knell to the true practices of democracy. Almost all political parties except the leftists were seen wooing the heads of various sects in Punjab before every Parliamentary and Assembly elections.
The recent entrant to the bandwagon of religion for politics was Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which on Sunday sent its senior leader Manish Sisodia from Delhi to Ludhiana to attend Jagannath Yatra. Its other leaders also participated in the “maha aarti.” Till date AAP had been maintaining its distance from religion and was considered a truly secular party. AAP was now perhaps trying to copy other political parties, which before elections in 2017 February had started visiting the Deras and Dargahs.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bhartiya Janata Party besides Shiv Sena had been using religion for politics since ages. Yet, both of them claim to be secular. SAD’s brazen use of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to meet its political ends was well known. The BJP swears by the name of Ram and professes implementing ‘Hindutva.’ SAD and BJP were together in alliance for power in Punjab which would complete its two consecutive terms in February 2017.
Punjab, where majority of the Sikhs live, witnessed propagation of the panthic politics as a large number of Akali Dals had sprouted with different agendas. The SAD (Amritsar) led by Simranjit Singh Mann supports and demands formation of Khalistan, a sovereign Sikh state. There were several other SADs but the most powerful of them was the one led by Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab. Badal’s Akali Dal was seen as nationalist as others harped on Khalistan.
In Punjab the rise of Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale in 1980s and a decade of terrorism was the outcome of politics pursued by the Congress. Late Giani Zail Singh and Late Indira Gandhi tried to outsmart the traditional Akali Dal by propping up Bhinderanwale for contesting SGPC elections. The plan did not succeed.
Once considered a close partner in politics, Bhinderanwale league grew powerful and became a deadly force of militants dictating terms to the Union Government led by the Congress. Its ideology, if it was there at all, sought separation of the Sikhs from the Hindu India. A bloody war was fought by armed forces as Pakistan kept on supplying weapons to the terrorists. The malaise was still showing its tentacles in Punjab with isolated incidents of violence here and there.
A few months ago, the SAD-BJP government launched “Mukh Mantri Terath Yatra” in which train loads of people were taken to various religious places free of cost for “obeisance.” The BJP added to its political game plan by organising a holy trip to abandoned temples in Pakistan. The SGPC too had been sending jathas to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.
Times had proved world over that mixing of religion with politics ultimately spoiled the broth. The emergence of Osama bin laden too was a by-product of use of Islam for political purposes. The so called jehad (religious war) in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt was nothing more than an example of misuse and misinterpretation of religion.