The Taliban attack on minority Sikhs in Pakistan is snowballing in to a major poll issues in India. We are in the last phase and going by the reports from the polling taken place, it appears that both the main contenders, the congress and BJP is running a neck to neck race. But still no one can say for certain, among these to national party which one will emerge as a single largest party.
One drawback of BJP in this election is that they failed to capitalize on any one of the issues they raised during this long winded election campaigning. They tried every trick in the trade to raise issues that would stir the conscious of the people and reap election dividends. From calling Manmohan singh a weak PM, Mumbai terror attack, promise to bring back Swiss black money stashed abroad and latest is picking up gauntlet on behalf of the Sikhs. LK Adavni accuses the congress government not of doing anything to stop atrocities on the minority Sikhs of Pakistan by the Taliban. Whether this emotive issue will reap electoral gains for the BJP and its ally the Akali Dal will be known only after the poll.
Mind you Punjab will go to poll in the last phase of election and Congress is expected to fare better in that State due to anti-incumbency factor. BJP see this as an opportunity to rake up emotive issues of minority Sikh prosecution at the hands of Taliban in Orakzai agency of NWFP, Pakistan.
The Taliban had targeted the Sikhs by demolishing their houses and forcing them to pay jiziya, a tax levied on non-Muslims. Taliban had demanded from the Sikh community Rs 5 crore a year under Sharia law but after negotiations it was reduced to 1.5 crore. According to the Taliban the Sharia asks all non-Muslims to pay protection money.
The Indian televisions channel has given lot of news coverage to the plights of Sikh families in Pakistan and carried footage of Sikh demonstration in the open streets of Punjab and New Delhi. The Punjab state ruling party Akali Dal workers along with BJP led the protest. They were seen burning the effigy of Taliban and shouting slogans against it.
BJP’s star campaigner Narendra Modi who is canvassing in Rajasthan State, in one election speech had come down heavily on Manmohan Singh. He expressed surprise that Manmohan Singh himself a Sikh is not doing enough to stop prosecution of Sikhs in Pakistan. The Indian government’s MEA spokesmen had voiced its concern about the sorry state of Sikh in Pakistan only to be rebuffed by the Pakistan government. The Indian government was told to mind its own business as minority Sikhs are citizen of Pakistan and will be protected.
The congress party is accusing the BJP that by making the Sikh a poll issues it is exploiting the emotions of Sikhs in India. Whereas AL Advani counters back saying that how can he keep quite when Sikhs are being prosecuted in Pakistan.
The congress government is already facing flak from people and politicians of Tamil Nadu for not able to pressurize the Sri-Lanka government in calling ceasefire in that war torn country.
In the last 2004 election the DMK party, which swept the poll, was instrumental in lending its key support for formation of Congress led UPA government at the centre. So the congress, this time, is heavily banking on its alliance DMK to win more number of seats. But the Sri-Lanka Tamil issue has become an emotionally charged election issues in the regional politics of Tamil Nadu and is expected to make some dent to the poll prospect of DMK and Congress.
Similarly the minority Pakistan Sikh atrocity by the Taliban has already become an emotional issue among Sikh voters in Punjab and elsewhere. It is the BJP’s old ally the Akali Dal who is ruling the Punjab state.
Meanwhile BJP and its ally Akali Dal is doing everything to capitalize on this one emotional issue of minority Pakistan Sikh, which was thrown to them on a platter. Whereas for Manmohan Singh and his party, it can ill-afford to ignore this sensitive issue, especially coming during the last leg of poll, which will have a decisive say as to who will form the government at the centre.