Well begun, it is said, is half done. Prof Darshan Singh has reacted with sensitivity and imagination to a mindboggling situation in which Sikhs find themselves today. Whereas future historians will exclusively credit Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale for igniting Sikh religious renaissance and political resurgence, Prof. Darshan Singh will be recognized as the harbinger of order and hope in the chaotic world of the Sikhs. On the eve of his appointment, the Sikh scenario presented a dismal look. Sikhs were in total disarray. Religious obligations and political focus were clouded by suspicions, charges and countercharges. Leaders were at each other’s throats and the Sikh masses were feeling dismayed and disgusted. They did not know whom to trust and whom to follow

S.G.P.C. deserves to be commended for replacing, even though belatedly and after much dithering, the discredited Singh Sahibs with men of courage and conviction. The resolutions adopted at the Sarbat Khalsa Convention on January 26, 1987, reflect the characteristic Sikh forthrightness and fearlessness. There is no trace of verbal jugglery or political chicanery in them. The preeminence of the Khalsa Panth was reasserted in the most unambiguous terms. It came out with a befitting challenge to the Delhi rulers who are hell-bent upon establishing Hindu theosophical rule under the deceptive garb of secularism.

The Singh Sahibs have rightly addressed themselves to the top priority need of unity among the squabbling Sikh ranks. Through an edict, they have dissolved all factions of the Akali Dal to be regrouped under a new Unified Akali Dal. The New Akali Dal will be headed by S. Simranjeet Singh Mann who is currently in jail under National Security Act. A Presidium of five members assisted by a Council of eight members will provide the leadership in Sardar Mann’s absence. It is significant that all factions with the sole exception of Barnala group have responded to the unity appeal of the Singh Sahibs. After indulging in a brief hide and seek game, Barnala alone declined to be: 1 to the appeal. He has taken this step on the express orders of the Center and has in the process completely alienated himself from the Sikh mainstream. His fate seems to be sealed and like Goethe’ Dr. Faust, he must be waiting for the midnight gong that will damn his soul forever.

The appointment of Sardar Mann as the Chief of the Unified Akali Dal shows that Singh Sahibs are keenly aware of the Sikh pulse. His appointment is also a categorical reminder to Delhi that Sikhs will no longer be duped by their divisive designs and planted stooges.

However, the composition of the Presidium and the Council members does not strike all very promising. One can’t easily dismiss the impression of “‘old wine in new bottles”. But for a couple of faces like Gen. Narinder Singh, it is the same old crowd that had overtly and covertly expressed its reservations about Sant Bhindranwale’s approach and objectives. Still the unity effort is commendable even though it is only a half measure and will serve only a limited purpose. Unity to be effective has to be on a wider scale and must embrace A.1.S.S.F. and Damdami Taksal. It is these two organizations that have been primarily steering the current struggle and Sikhs owe it to them for keeping the torch aflame with their blood. To treat them as peripheral forces will mean closing eyes to the realities of the situation. Today, Sikh nation as a whole is in confrontation with Delhi and is battling to preserve its identity and integrity against a determined Hindu fundamentalist onslaught. Present Akali leadership is ill oriented for this stupendous challenge. Sikh hopes lie in A.LS.S.F. and Damdami Taksal who embody in themselves Sant Bhindranwale’s living spark. Let the Unified Akali Dal recognize this and work hand in hand with these two valiant organizations under the overall direction of the Singh Sahibs.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 13, 1987