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"Sikhs May Forgive Congress"

Does Manmohan Singh's appointment as prime minister represent Sonia Gandhi's desire to provide a "healing touch" and "make amends for a historical mistake?" According to the following report, Sikh "intellectuals" are "unanimous" in believing so. However, no one in their right mind would characterize Parsang and Sant Sipahi as organizations representative of the Sikh intelligentia. On the other hand, Dr. Singh might be the only senior Congress leader who does not pose a political threat to Sonia Gandhi and is not inclined to form a power base of his own. Finally, according to a September 2, 1999 U.N.I. report published by Rediff, Dr. Singh "accused the R.S.S. . . . of being involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh carnage in the capital" and claimed that "the Congress as an organisation had no role in it."

The Times of India, Jalandhar, Punjab, May 22, 2004

Sikh intellectuals, including writers, lawyers and community leaders, are unanimous in pointing out that the decision to make Manmohan Singh the next prime minister has acted as a healing touch for a community which felt incarcerated for decades on account of the Congress, directly or indirectly. What they find worthy of admiration is that the initiative was taken by one who had been humiliated for her foreign origin till just a week ago.

Dr. Sarabjit Singh, convenor of Parsang, a platform constituting progressive Punjabi writers, said: 'Sikhs, who were for long being projected as terrorists or extremists are now being seen as a secular community. By bringing Dr. Manmohan Singh into the limelight the Congress president has foiled the attack of fundamentalists of various dimensions. She has attempted to make amends for a historical mistake. Maybe the community would now forget or forgive the anti-Sikh riots.'

'For the first time the Preamble of the Constitution has been translated into reality and the word secular has become reality,' said Barinderjit Singh, spokesman of Lawyers Forum for Justice. He said: 'It is for the first time that both the president and the P.M. are non-politicians, the former being a scientist and latter an economist.'

'He will not only enhance the image of the country all over the world but would also reinforce the faith of the international community in Sikhs.'

'The Sikh community had been alienated from the mainstream much before the partition. That feeling may become a thing of the past,' said G.S. Lamba, editor of an old community journal Sant Sipahi [Saint-Soldier].

Talking to T.N.N. here, he said: 'On June 12, 1960, the Sikhs were beaten up in Delhi when they were conducting a peaceful movement for Punjabi Suba [a linguistic province for Punjabis]. Time and again the powers in Delhi tried to teach them a lesson, as it was described. They were pulled out of buses and beaten up during the Asian Games [when] Bhajan Lal was the chief minister [of Haryana]. Then came the humiliating Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh riots. Coming from the Indira Gandhi family, the gesture is all the more an act of expiation.'