Chandigarh: There never was a hint that the Narendra Modi government had in mind the 350th anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh. As has been the practice, the 350th anniversary would be yearlong celebrations and the Modi government has come forward to contribute towards this mega event with the announcement of Rs 100 crore in the union budget presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha today.
Sometime back, both Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal had visited Patna to discuss the celebrations with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Patna is the birth place of the 10th Sikh Guru where he spent his formative years before the family shifted to Anandpur Sahib. The main function as such, would be held at Takht Patna Sahib for which the Nitish government has extended total cooperation.
Those who have been critical of attitude of Modi government towards Punjab must keep this in mind as respecting the sensitivities of a dominant minority, although lesser in number is more important than anything else. It is not just the amount of Rs 100 crore that is important.
It may be recalled that earlier in 1999, it was the Atal Behari Vajpayee government that had allocated similar amount during the Khalsa tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa in 1999. At that time too, it was the Akali Dal government in power that was in alliance with the BJP. Prime Minister Vajpayee had joined the main function at Anandpur Sahib. The Sikhs perhaps had never gathered in such a large number at one place in history as then at the week-long functions at Anandpur Sahib. Sikhs from across the globe had participated in tercentenary celebrations. The uniqueness was that it was for the first time that the centenary celebrations of the Khalsa had been organized. The first and second centenary could not be celebrated for obvious reasons. What facilitated the celebrations at a grand scale was the Akali Dal government headed by Parkash Singh Badal.
Again it is the Akali Dal that is in power in the state as well as at the centre and it is this relationship that plays a special role. It was in 1999 that the foundation stone of the Virasat-e-Khalsa heritage complex was laid to commemorate the event.
Not that such allocation has been made only for this grand event. Similar announcement has also been made for Deen Dyal Upadhayay anniversary who was among the tallest leaders of the Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP. What is important is respecting the coalition partner and a party that articulates aspirations of the Sikhs in particular and the Punjabi’s in general.