Chandigarh — With the war of supremacy between the factions led by Mr. Harchand Singh Longowal and Mr. Jagdev Singh Talwandi gaining momentum every day, the Akali politics has reached yet another crucial stage displacing focus on efforts to solve the Punjab problem.

The separate conferences of the two factions held at Amritsar this week have made it very clear that Mr. Longowal, despite his bigger stature as a ‘‘panthic’ leader, will have to adopt a de. fensive posture before the ultraradical line taker by Mr. Talwandi. It is generally believed that had the five Sikh high priests and the main bulk of the SGPC not come to Mr. Longowal’s_ rescue. He might have lost to Mr Talwandi in the “first bout”’ for leadership.

It is also believed that Mr. Longowal was “forced”? To take a harc line in his public utter acnes on the happening: starting with the Army action in Amritsar. He has, more or less, conformed to the Talwandi view about the Anandpur Sahib resolutions saying that there was no difference between its 1973 and 1978 versions. But Mr. Talwandi has gone one step ahead interpreting the resolution as a document for special status for Sikh nationhood. Mr. Longowal, so far, has not gone to this extent and seems to be content with its emphasis on a liberal federal structure. The debate between the two factions is likely to revolve around its interpretation because their other demands are broadly identical.

As Mr. Talwandi does not seem to be responding to the call for unity of the “Panth” under the leadership of Mr. Longowal, he may soon be having a confrontation with the high priests. Supporters of Mr. Talwandi wonder how the high priests can accept the sanctity of the rebuilt Akal Takht after having declared ‘‘tankhaiya”’ the Budha Dal Nihang chief, Santa Singh, and the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr. Buta Singh, who undertook its repair.

It appears that the ‘doves’ in the Longowal faction have taken a back seat. They were reportedly not as vocal in putting across their views in the party’s conference this week as they are said to have been before. Most of the speaking in the conference was done either by Mr. Longowal or by district jarheads of the party who voiced concern at the alleged harassment of party activists, particularly the youths, after the Army action.

Mr. Longowal does not seem to favor the Sikh forum as an independent organization of the Sikhs. He made it clear while talking to newsmen before his party’s conference began that he would like the forum to function under the banner of the Akali Dal.

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 5, 1985