CHANDIGARH, India: The Punjab Finance Minister Balwant Singh has appealed to the Head Priests not to come in confrontation with the ruling Akali Dal. The Punjab Finance Minister told newsmen that there was so much to be done in the field of religion. I will request them to concentrate in the religious field. I assure full support of the State government and the Akali Dal (L) for the propagation of Sikh religion.

Balwant Singh said that Akali Dal was basically a political party but it has also religious centers. In religious affairs we accept the supremacy of Akal Takht but in political affairs we regard Akali Dal as supreme. He and his party have great respect for the Priests that was why party adopted two resolutions appreciating the steps taken to forge Panthic unity but we have been requesting all along that the unity should be between groups and parties which believe in democracy and Chardikala of Sikh Panth. They should also be committed to the unity and integrity of the country and follow programmes and policies of Shiromani Akali Dal. They should try to bring about unity through discussion and dialogue, Mr. Balwant Singh added.

Balwant Singh added that he had met Jathedar of Akal Takht at Kiratpur on January 25. I do not meet remaining priests nor did I know them. Finance Minister said that he had a long discussion with Jathedar Darshan Singh. It was at this meeting that Darshan Singh came out with a plan to forge Panthic Unity. He spoke in terms of creating Panj Pyaras and 40 Muktas by bringing all sections together and setting up a joint council but I cautioned him against it because I knew that this will not work. In fact I requested him to bring all the 73 Akali Dal M.L.A.s (L) together.

Referring to the charge that tuling Akali Dal leaders were clinging to power Balwant Singh said that it was an absurd charge. Akali Dal (L) fought elections and received massive mandate from the people to fulfill the promises made out at the time of poll.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 6, 1987