New Delhi In a widely covered first television interview after his landslide victory, Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi declared that he was anxious to solve the Panjab problem. He described the problem as a conflict between the government and the Akalis, and in a shrewed and clever manner attempted to narrow down the Sikh problem to merely a political confrontation with Akali party. ‘‘Problem is with the Akali party or with the Sikhs living aboard,” he said. “‘Sikhs in India feel no sense of discrimination and they are prosperous people,” he asserted. Mr. Gandhi’s remarks failed to achieve the desired results as the people of the World in general and Governments in particular know the truth too well. Calculated and organized Massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs after Mrs. Gandhi’s assassination has beyond doubt shown to the world that Indian Government is bent upon exterminating Sikhs as a separate religious entity.
The situation has moved the full circle and is again in the familiar square one where Mrs. Indira Gandhi had left it. She kept insisting that Akalis must first condemn violence in Specific terms if they were interested in a fruitful dialogue. It was a clever move to make the Akalis own the responsibility for the violence in Punjab. Akalis refused to condemn it as per her terms though they were not averse to denouncing it in general terms. Rajiv has returned to the language and stance of his mother. Optimists still feel that his latest non conciliatory posture is the result of the electoral compulsions and he would solve the problem after the elections. But usually knowledgeable sources are extremely skeptical and strongly feel that the growing stranglehold of Hindu fundamentalist forces would prove too hard a nut to be cracked by an over pampered upstart like Rajiv.
Article extracted from this publication >> February 1, 1985