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P.M. to Unveil Sikh Portraits in Parliament


The Hindu, New Delhi, Aug. 16, 2003

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will unveil the portraits of the late Master Tara Singh and freedom fighter Baba Kharak Singh - architects of the Shiromani Akali Dal (S.A.D.) and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.G.P.C.), in Parliament's Central Hall on Aug. 21. National Commission for Minorities (N.C.M.) Chairman, Tarlochan Singh, said today that artist Phoola Rani was commissioned to do the work some months ago. 'These portraits are the first of any Sikh leader to be exhibited in the Central Hall of Parliament,' the N.C.M. chief said, adding, the Prime Minister the same day would unveil a statue of Sikh king, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at the Parliament compound.

The move appears to be part of the B.J.P.'s efforts to win favour of the Sikhs ahead of Assembly elections in five States, especially in Delhi which is home to a large population of the community. Earlier, the B.J.P.-led Central government had cleared a Delhi Assembly-passed legislation granting a second official language designation to Punjabi in Delhi, fulfilling a four-decade-old demand of the Sikhs. 'The portraits of the Master and Baba Kharak Singh partially fulfill the Sikhs' long-standing demand as the community also want to see the paintings of freedom fighters Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh, among others, exhibited in Parliament,' Tarlochan Singh said.