Why is the Free Akal Takht initiative not working in partnership with existing political parties in India?

  1. This movement is not just a Punjab issue. It is a Sikh issue, impacting the lives of 30 million Sikhs worldwide. As such, winning an election for control of Punjab will not solve the problem of how the Sikh Qaum is currently governed. It will not solve the issue of how the Akal Takht Sahib is being denigrated and the Sarbat Khalsa governance structure is not being allowed to function as it was designed to. Sikhs in the diaspora sometimes forget that Punjab is a multi-ethnic state with a very large Hindu population and significant Muslim and Christian communities. The state of the Akal Takht Sahib and the reform of Sikh institutions is not a priority for many of the residents of Punjab, and therefore no credible political party would focus their attention solely on Sikh religious issues. That is not to say that Sikhs should not involve themselves in Punjab politics and in fact, many serious issues that affect all Punjabis (female foeticide, farmer suicide, environmental pollution, groundwater depletion, drug use, alcohol abuse, unemployment, water rights, lack of infrastructure, lack of investment and systemic corruption) desperately need to be addressed. Sikhs have an essential role to play in this conversation and Sikh values need to be brought to the table to help save a dying Punjab. However, Punjab and Sikh issues need to stop being conflated as all Sikhs are not Punjabi and all Punjabis are not Sikhs.

  2. Electoral politics in India are an incredibly corrupt affair. Political parties are well established machines with huge networks of patronage that ensure they remain in power. The Shiromani Akali Dal is a sophisticated entity and its current leader himself is a political genius, having first been elected Chief Minister of Punjab over forty five years ago. Streams of Akalis within Shiromani Akali Dal, other separate Akali Dals, and Panthic-minded GurSikhs have struggled to win even a handful of seats in the SGPC, let alone win a majority in the Punjab legislature, for decades now. Winning elections is a complicated business and diaspora Sikhs often do not understand the motivations and concerns of Punjabis on the ground. Expending the Sangat's energy to win an election in Punjab would do little to actually free Akal Takht Sahib.

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