Dissociating with the electoral process in the normal circumstances gives the impression that the advocates of the boycott either do not believe in democracy or are shy of facing the electorate. But when a powerful political party with an extensive popular base and with deep commitment to democratic ideology boycotts an election, obviously only some compelling reasons can prompt it to resort to the extreme step.
The boycott of Punjab elections by the United Akali Dal is the logical consequence of the extraordinarily distressing conditions obtaining there conditions that totally precludes free and fair elections. The State is groaning under the ruthless and repressive army occupation for over two years; thousands of Sikhs, mostly the youth, are rotting in jails; civil liberties and basic human rights stand suspended; public meetings, conferences and other means of mobilizing support are not permitted by the district Authorities; 70,000 additional troops have been deployed along with the already swelling number of army and paramilitary troops in Punjab. The total number of troops exceeds five hundred thousand.
Rigging on grand scale with perfect immunity is designed to be the distinctive feature of these elections. What useful purpose can be served by participating in such an election is not difficult to visualize. Under the circumstances, boycott is the only alternative; rather it is a political necessity as it would help keep the struggle alive and effective.
Evidently, Rajiv ordered elections after he failed to contain the growing Sikh sentiment for a sovereign status. To arrest the momentum of the struggle, Rajiv Government is attempting to try a new strategy of TEMPORARILY giving political power to “CONVENIENT ALLIES” among the Akalis. Persons like Barnala, Balwant Singh, Ravi Inder, Ramoowalia and Amarinder Singh, who are hell-bent upon sacrificing the vital interests of the Sikh nation at the altar of their ambitions, appear to have given a categorical assurance to their BRAHMIN MASTER that they would sabotage Sikh aspirations and also “chastise” the recalcitrant Sikh youth. Consequently Rajiv’s party has put up weak and unknown candidates in most of the constituencies in order to facilitate victory of its new allies. By ruling Punjab through his “Akali” stooges, Rajiv intends to continue his revengeful slaughter of the Sikhs and yet remain unclaimed.
But Rajiv’s sinister plan suffers from serious miscalculations. He has failed to recognize that after signing the blighted accord, the Barnala Akali Dal stands reduced to just an extension of the Congress (1) thus, rendering the elections nothing but a labored farce. Besides with Majority of Sikhs abstaining from elections, how can Barnala ministry hope to survive when Darbara Singh government with a majority mandate collapsed like a house of cards before the sweeping surge of Sikh nationalism. Today the situation is far worse. Destruction of Akal Takht, massacre of thousands of innocent pilgrims and the nightmarish November ’84 holocaust against Sikhs are the grim events that have left an indelible impression on the Sikh psyche pushing their alienation to a point of no return. Rajiy’s naive moves won’t help to beguile the Sikhs any more. Sikh faith in Brahmin dominated India has been irretrievably lost, hence the boycott.
Article extracted from this publication >> September 6, 1985