By R.K. Sinha
The smattering of the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Charanjit Singh Channi, has now become utterly pitiable. While addressing an election meeting in Roop Nagar, he said that he won’t allow the brothers of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Delhi to enter Punjab. Ms. Priyanka Gandhi, who links her legacy with the Nehru family of Uttar Pradesh, sat there silently, smiling and applauding. The reason behind her support of this absurd statement is known only to her. Now, who is to tell Channi Ji that Guru Gobind Singh Ji was born in Patna Sahib, and thus, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was also a Bihari.
It is a matter of deep regret that when Channi Ji was delivering a statement causing a national uproar, Priyanka Gandhi did not tighten the leash of her Chief Minister. If she had reprimanded Channi Ji in front of everyone, she would have garnered a sense of respect towards her. However, maybe she was unaware that he was degrading the entire Nehru family, as it is related to Anand-Bhawan Prayagraj. If one looks into the legacy of the father of Motilal Nehru, unnecessary controversy shall arise.
There is a possibility that Channi Ji, who has challenged the people of Bihar and UP, may not even be aware that the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, finalized and enshrined the Guru Granth Sahib, was born in Patna. He also founded the Khalsa Panth in 1699. That stands the most significant event for the Sikh community. Guru Gobind Singh is highly respected not only by the Sikhs but by all the people of Bihar and the country.
In his desire to grab power, Channi Ji has not only insulted Uttar Pradesh but also Guru Ravidas, the adored saint of crores of Dalits. He did not even know that Sant Guru Ravidas was born in Varanasi. He must be aware that the devotional songs and verses of the great Sant Ravidas have made a lasting impact on the Bhakti movement. Sant Guru Ravidass has Gurudwaras at various places in Punjab.
Apart from this, Channi Ji must realize that the first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Govind Vallabh Pant, which he is referring to with disrespect, had given lakhs of acres of land in the foothills of the Himalayas almost free of cost to Punjabis who came to India due to the partition of the country so that they can live their lives with dignity. Today the current generations of those people are leading a happy life.
Channi Ji also knows that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have a deep connection with Punjab, Punjabis, and Sikhism. These provinces had embraced Punjabi Hindus or Sikhs after 1947 from across the border after the partition. There will be localities of Punjabis in every city of Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of Sikhs settled in the Gumti area of Kanpur after the partition. They enriched Uttar Pradesh with their hard work and dedication.
Similarly, thousands of Punjabis came to Bihar and Jharkhand. Inder Singh Namdhari Ji is respected all over Bihar and Jharkhand. His family is not Bihari by origin. Namdhari Ji, who was a cabinet minister in the joint Bihar government and was the President of the Bihar state BJP, became the first speaker of its assembly after the formation of Jharkhand. Neither Bihar nor Jharkhand considered him an outsider. The personality of Namdhari Ji is that of a visionary. He gave more importance to education in his life and promoted linguistic knowledge. Bharatiya Janata Party leader, S.S. Ahluwalia, may do politics in West Bengal but he belongs to Bihar/Jharkhand only.
Punjabis settled in these states must have been hurt by Channi Ji’s statement about the people of Bihar and UP. If Channi Ji even had a leaflet of knowledge of the society and history of Bihar, he would not have given his above statement. He didn’t even know that Bihar has always been the center or capital of the country’s knowledge. Bihar has given the country personalities such as Lord Mahavira, Lord Buddha, one of the four first Shankaracharyas (Mandan Mishra), and even the first President of India, Deshratna Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The desire to acquire knowledge is instilled in every Bihari. It considers the whole of India as its own. Bihar generously accepted and voted Madhu Limaye, Acharya Kripalani, and George Fernandes as its leaders to the Lok Sabha. For this generosity, Channi Ji will have to make efforts in the next life as he has wasted this life with his actions.
I must mention here an old Punjabi colony located in Patna, the capital of Bihar. The residents there take great pride in calling themselves Bihari Punjabis. They came to Patna after 1947 as refugees and settled there. They marry their children only in Punjabi families settled in different districts of Bihar. Only after the order of the first President of the country, President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the Bihar government had set up a Punjabi colony for them near the Chitkohra market. The children of the Pal family studied with me. They were fourteen brothers. Pal Andal himself used to make colorful lemonades at home and sell them from door to door on his bicycle. Then Andal built Pal-Hotel near the station, which became the most popular restaurant in Patna. Today all the brothers have many hotels and many other prestigious business establishments.
The same thing can be said for Uttar Pradesh as well. Uttar Pradesh has always embraced Punjabis. One more thing is that Uttar Pradesh will never stand against the country. The Uttar Pradesh of Ram and Krishna is basically and ultimately inclusive. Uttar Pradesh is the only state which has had a Bengali woman Sucheta Kriplani as its Chief Minister. Kanpur contributed to giving impetus to the revolutionary life of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. His political vision became clearer while working in the newspaper ‘Pratap’ of Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Ji in Kanpur.
Kanpur city has repeatedly chosen the non-Hindi speaking S.M.Banerjee as its MP. The same Uttar Pradesh made Sikh Rajendra Singh Hans the captain of its Ranji Trophy cricket team. On the other hand, Bihar also handed over the captaincy of its Ranji Trophy team to Hari Gidwani, who belongs to a Sindhi family. You can find several similar examples. Channi Ji must understand that the people of Bihar or UP are not a burden on anyone, but are the ones taking on the burdens of others.
In fact, for the past few years, it has become a fashion to slander the people of Bihar and UP. A few years ago, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that “People of Bihar (he meant all Purvanchal including Jharkhand) come to Delhi with a ticket of Rs 500 and then go back after getting free treatment in government hospitals worth lakhs of rupees.” Should the Chief Minister of Delhi have been so insensitive?
The same Kejriwal wants to rule the power of Punjab directly or indirectly. Should Biharis be prohibited from coming to Delhi hospitals for treatment? Do residents of other states have no rights in Delhi? Isn’t Delhi the capital of the people of Bihar? Shouldn’t all Biharis get treatment in the best hospital like AIIMS? Channi and Kejriwal have only disappointed the nation with their senseless rhetoric. They have destroyed their reputation by trying to humiliate the people of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
(The author is a senior editor, columnist, and former MP. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author.)