CHANDIGARH: Internecine wars have often led to the downfall of many great communities, and tragically the Sikh community is currently witnessing one of the most bitter tugs-of-war within the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar). Away from the front pages of the Indian media, away from the popular conception of what is news and away from the consciousness of large body of Sikh masses for whom it will be of utmost importance, Sardar Simranjit Singh Mann and Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, two men with a past of sacrifice and a promising present who between them engendered hopes of a fruitful leadership, are now in the middle of this internecine row.Saner opinion within the panth had hoped that better sense would prevail and Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu’s decision to pull back on his forces and refrain from any direct attack in the face of provocation would help things, but it seems Sardar Mann is continuing to push the issue.
If language be the index of a man’s mind, then the past week witnessed this index plunging to new depths and plumbing the stink. In a rather vitriolic attack on Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, whom Sardar Mann had praised highly at one stage, the president of the SAD(A) called the latest turn of events in the party as a “skit (which) is humorous”.
In a written statement released to the media and displayed on the website of the party, Sardar Mann described Bhai Daljit Singh in a derogatory fashion as “Mr. Daljit Singh Bitta” and accused him of having “presented a written paper stating and demanding that the SAD (A) should erase and obliterate the words of Khalistan and Azadi from our political lexicon.” He said it was because of his presence and the “well grounded and hardened PAC members” of the party that the “preposterous resolution of a retired Khalistani” was shot down.
“Since then Mr. Bitta has not rested his oars and doggedly pursued his one point agenda to wreck this unique party,” Sardar Mann said in his dripping-with-acid missive which seemed to be aimed at foreclosing all options of reconciliation between the two tall men. Sources said Sardar Mann’s vitriol even surprised many in his own core group.
The missive also seemed to be an attempt to obliterate all contribution of Bhai Daljit Singh who had provided a sharp edge to the struggle against the Dera Sirsa and derawad in Punjab. It may be noted that it was because of Bhai Daljit Singh’s decision to join forces with the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) that the SAD(A) remained in the picture throughout in the agitation against the dera.
Sardar Mann’s name calling included terminology like “pernicious intrusion into our party by pensioners” and he even attacked Bhai Daljit Singh for having joined his party, something Bhai Daljit Singh did only at the invitation of Sardar Mann. “I do not think it was ethical and moral of Mr. Bitta to gain entry by subterfuge into the (party) and wreck it from within,” Sardar Mann wrote.
Interestingly, he claimed that the SAD(A) led by him remained “the last citadel of Sikh resistance against a Hindu state, the rest having surrendered their will” but did not care to explain why the last of the warrior Sikh outfits had the distinction of watching every one of its candidates forfeiting its deposits in the elections. Experts said while warriors have often got defeated, what was surprising was that the tall leaders of the party who won with thumping majority at one time in Lok Sabha elections could not manage even a few hundred votes! “Why is it that a leader who is given ticket does not get even 300 votes in his constituency? Does it not mean that he is rejected not just by the Sikhs but even by his own party workers? Unless it is Sardar Mann’s contention that in certain Assembly seats, the party does not have even 300 workers!” said a senior leader of the SAD(A), himself disgusted with the state of affairs in the party.
Sardar Mann said he spent the May 14 to August 17 period this year behind bars and is “currently on the run lest I be arrested and put in jail to give time and maneuverability to the bull in the china shop to destroy the (party).” It may be noted that Bhai Daljit Singh continuously demanded that Sardar Mann be released and that the case was a concocted one.
A bit of megalomania also seemed to have tempered Sardar Mann’s thinking, a streak which has had a constant presence in his discourse over the years. He said he could see himself “pursued like Dara Shikoh” but will turn out to be a “Captain of a sinking ship… determined to stay aboard or go down with it.” As for his opponents, he called them “rats”. Language, as we said earlier, is the index of a man’s mind.
Sardar Mann referred in the missive to his ability at having retained his sense of humor, but saner opinion in the community is now veering around to the view that the once tall leader is putting himself in a spot where the world will laugh at his expense, and he will sorely need his much preserved sense of humor. Surely, calling names cannot be humor, unless he has discovered some new variety of black humor.
———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————On truck with KAC
Sardar Mann’s main grouse seemed to be Bhai Daljit Singh’s association with the Khalsa Action Committee. “What was the use and necessity of constructing the KAC…Mr. Bitta wanted to break the SAD(A) from within and transfer its authority into (sic) the Khalsa Action Committee,” Sardar Mann said.