Shiromani Akali Dal started the “Punjabi Suba” campaign after India gained its independence, calling for the creation of a separate state.
Parkash Singh Badal ran for office for the first time under the Congress banner, after spending the most of his political career in opposition to them.
There was a backstory involved. The Shiromani Akali Dal, with the catchphrase “Punjabi Suba,” started a push shortly after Independence for a separate state of Punjabi-speaking citizens. The Congress administration outlawed the phrase, and the tension grew to the point that, in July 1955, police were allowed into the Golden Temple.
Later, the Congress and Akalis both softened their positions and attempted to resolve the conflict through a “Regional Formula.” To realize this and for the “greater good of Sikhs, Punjab, and country,” the Akalis briefly considered merging with the Congress. The Congress had previously partnered with a front organization from Haryana that supported the Regional Formula.
The Akali Dal adopted a resolution on September 30, 1956, declaring that it had no political agenda and would leave it up to the Congress. During this short period of détente, Badal ran from Malout and won with many other Akalis who were running on the Congress platform.
The Akali Dal working committee then requested that all of its members who had run for office on the Congress ticket resign from the Assembly on March 15, 1960, but Badal refused. This was partly due to the internal conflict within the Akali Dal, where Badal was viewed as siding with Sant Fateh Singh against Master Tara Singh.
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A hung Assembly resulted from the 1967 elections, and three coalition administrations were toppled until Badal was chosen as CM on March 26, 1970, at the age of 43. In July 1970, the Congress stepped in to help Badal when the Jan Sangh, which had been backing his Akali administration, left.
Despite being a fervent supporter of federalism, Badal refused to entertain any discussion of a distinct “Sikh homeland” and rejected senior Akali leader Jagjit Singh for doing so. However, on June 13, 1971, his government was overthrown by internal Akalis factions.
He had said after taking the oath of office as chief minister for the first time that his administration would “try to restore communal harmony in the state and re-establish complete Hindu-Sikh amity.” He was regarded within the Akalis as a “secular” voice. When the Army entered Golden Temple as part of Operation Blue Star to capture Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, this stance was put to the test.
While he remained a supporter of Sikh-Hindu amity, he never forgave the Congress for their actions in 1984, which were swiftly followed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s murder and anti-Sikh riots. He continued to remind people of “the role of the Congress” in this regard.
He was imprisoned for sedition for allegedly inciting Sikh troops in the Indian Army to rebel against Operation Blue Star.
After being released from prison, Badal participated in the funerals of Sikh militants slain in clashes with the police and abstained from the 1992 Assembly elections. However, despite his diplomatic remarks towards Khalistan, his politics never took a separatist turn.
In 1997, Badal established his third administration. In 1999, he fully assumed control of the SGPC and succeeded in ousting Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who had served as its chairman for more than 20 years.
However, he once again disregarded Sikh organizations who urged him to act against police personnel who were allegedly violating human rights after 1984. As a result, Amarinder Singh was able to garner support among Sikhs despite being a member of the Congress, which was blamed for the events of 1984.
The conflict between Sikhs and Dera Sacha Sauda would be associated with Badal’s presidency, which started in 2007. Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the leader of Dera Sacha Sauda, was not brought to justice by Badal despite accusations of sacrilege made by the Akal Takht.
In a first for the country, Badal was able to take back control in 2012. A monument for Bhindranwale, other militants, and Sikhs slain in the 1984 Army operation was permitted to be built at this time by the Badal-controlled SGPC. It took a while before Badal was charged with softening his stance against Sikh hardliners.
The sacrilege acts of 2015 arrived two years later, and the party was humiliated in 2017 as a result. A year later, Badal and other Akali officials went to the Golden Temple to wash dishes and shoes as part of a “apology” for this.
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