Amit Shah to Akalis: Propagate Seva Bhoj Yojna, not just relief for Langar

Chandigarh, June 9: Aap Seva Bhoj Yojna Ki Baat Karen, Langar Ki Nahin.

This was the ‘advice’ given by Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah to the Akali Dal leaders during his interaction with them here at the residence of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on June 7 last.

The interaction was part of  public relations exercise undertaken at the national level by Shah after recent reverses in elections. Also present were the BJP leaders from Punjab.

The Akali Dal has been in alliance with the BJP since 1997 and  party president Sukhbir Singh Badal hailed it as social consensus in his social meeting comment on this meeting.

Shah told Akali leaders it was Seva Bhoj Yojna that should be focussed by them as it was for the entire country and all those bodies providing free food irrespective of religion have been covered under it.

It may be recalled that the Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee had been demanding  that the items purchased for Langar served by the Golden Temple should be exempted from GST regime.

Langar is not just free food as is being made out even by these Akali leaders but symbol of basic Sikh doctrine of equality, brotherhood and compassion that reject the Manuvadi social architecture of Hinduism of compartmentalisation of society on caste basis rather than treating man as a man. This institution was started by Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh Faith. Guru Ka Langar is not managed by money from the government but contribution from devotees.  Any violation of the principle is considered to be violative of the Sikh doctrine itself. Guru Amar Das had politely  refused financial assistance from Emperor Akbar for running Langar.

The Akali leaders did not react to this ‘advice’ from Shah, it is learnt from credible sources.

Instead of exempting Langar from the GST, the centre has come up with a 2-year scheme of financial assistance called Seva Bhoj Yojna to compensate all such bodies serving free food to compensate for GST.

Now Langar would be part of Seva Bhoj under this scheme there belittling this very institution.

The Sikh institutions like the SGPC and the Akali Dal, as usual, flip-flopped again.

Both discredited Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal welcomed the scheme on the first day. They changed their stand the next day as newspapers dissected the scheme in the framework of the Sikh doctrine. They fell in line again as Sukhbir and his wife and food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal stuck to their line  of taking credit for the launch of Seva Bhoj Yojna.

It is apparent that even basic understanding of Sikh tenets is missing in this entire narrative and that is fundamental issue. Both the Akal Takht Jathedar and the SGPC chief can’t go against Badals.

These top Akali leaders tried to slam those opposing acceptance of financial assistance from the government under Seva Bhoj Yojna with the usual weapon  of labeling such people as Congress agents. This is the weapon with which Parkash Singh Badal had attacked even a stalwart like Gurcharan Singh Tohra after they fell apart in 1999.

Now it is Shah who has advised  them to propagate this scheme as Seva Bhoj Yojna at the national level and not financial assistance just for Langar. This  amounts to putting question mark on the institution of  Guru Ka Langar itself.  It is not Amit Shah who can be blamed for it. He and his government have made the right move.

Jagtar Singh


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