NEW DELHI, India: The Cabinet approved the Presidential address to Parliament on Feb. 16th, a week before the start of budget session on Feb. 23. In is the stand taken by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Surjit Singh Barnala against the dictates of the High Priests in the Golden Temple was appreciated but when the address was sent to the President, he seemed to disagree with this reference. He was prepared to speak of the state government and the people of state in logical terms but was said to feel that Mr. Barnala was a head of a religious party and could not therefore be considered secular. Praise of this kind would be in appropriate. The said paragraph should be reframed. When this was conveyed to the government on Feb. 20 the Cabinet was considering a constitutional requirement to convene a special sitting on the evening of Feb. 21st to discuss the matter and reinforce the earlier approval of the address. The reference to Surjit Singh Barnala therefore remained in the address delivered by the President on Monday. On Tuesday Barnala’s action was commended in parliament by the government and all opposition parties.

It may be recalled that like Mr. Barnala, Mr. Zail Singh had been too declared “Tankhaya” by the Priests but unlike Mr. Barnala he had appeared before them and had been pardoned.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 6, 1987