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Punjab’s two ‘Beant Singhs’ with separate legacies

In Punjab’s era of militancy, there were two ‘Beant Singhs’, both of whom have left their mark on history. Depending on which side of the ideological fence one is, each ‘Beant Singh’ is treated in a different way.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: June 10, 2024, 10:22 AM - 5 mins read

Former Punjab CM Beant Singh(left), and former Indian PM Indira Gandhi with her assassin Beant Singh (right).

Punjab’s two ‘Beant Singhs’ with separate legacies

Former Punjab CM Beant Singh(left), and former Indian PM Indira Gandhi with her assassin Beant Singh (right).


The recently concluded General Elections have once again brought into focus one name, “Beant Singh”, shared by two different persons. Both have had an immense impact on the elections in Punjab. 

 

The two are known for provoking extreme emotions from extremely opposed poles. 

 

In Punjab’s era of militancy, there were two ‘Beant Singhs’, both of whom have left their mark on history. Depending on which side of the ideological fence one is, each ‘Beant Singh’ is treated in a different way.

 

While one was the Chief Minister who was killed by militants in a suicide attack, the other one was in the personal security of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, whom he shot dead to avenge the ‘Operation Bluestar’, when the government of India sent the army into Golden Temple to flush out militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, popularly known as Sant Bhindrawale in Punjab.

 

Ravneet Singh Bittu, who was on Sunday inducted as a minister in the third term of the Modi government, is the grandson of “the Chief Minister Beant Singh”.

Although he lost from Ludhiana parliamentary constituency to the Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, he was still inducted as a 

Minister of State in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways. 


Although it is not for the first time that someone has been appointed a minister even after losing, his induction is attributed to his great political legacy he has inherited from his grandfather.

 

Most of the people supporting the BJP consider ‘Chief Minister Beant Singh’ as the saviour of Punjab, while a large section of people accuse him of having resorted to gross violation of human rights during the anti-militancy campaign in Punjab. 

Another ‘Beant Singh’, who is equally respected and admired by a large section of Punjabis, was in the personal security of late Indira Gandhi.

 

After the Operation Bluestar, he along with Satwant Singh had been withdrawn from Ms Gandhi’s security detail in apprehension of their hurt feelings and possible reaction over the army action in Golden Temple that caused considerable damage to the temple complex and more than that hurt the Sikh psyche globally. 

 

Gandhi insisted that the two Sikh security personnel must be brought back into her personal security as she had full trust in them.

Despite strong reservations from the security and intelligence agencies, against their return, Gandhi prevailed upon and they were again deputed for her personal security and that too in the closest circle. 

 

As worst was feared, worst did happen. Her trust proved to be misplaced. Beant Singh and Satwant Singh shot Indira Gandhi dead to avenge Operation Bluestar. 

 

The assassination led to anti-Sikh riots in different parts of the country, with Delhi being the worst hit where about 4000 Sikhs were killed in vengeance. 

While Beant Singh’s wife Bimal Kaur Khalsa and father Sucha Singh were elected as Members of Parliament in 1989, his son Satbir Singh was elected as an MP from Faridkot constituency this time. 

 

However, Satbir did not use his father’s name much in the campaign or rather he did not need to use it, as people already knew who he was. His main agenda was justice in the sacrilege case of holy Guru Granth Sahib in Bargadi that fell within the Faridkot parliamentary constituency.

 

His election is mistakenly interpreted as the “rise of extremism” in Punjab. That will be completely wrong inference. Even the election of Amritpal from Khadoor Sahib cannot be interpreted as a return of extremism, although he (Amritpal) is known to pursue a radical and extremist agenda. Both the results are extreme reactions after disillusionment with the existing political parties.

The Aam Aadmi Party had managed to fill the vacuum in 2022, by now euphoria about it also appears to have fizzled out as was seen in the results. 

Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa got 2.98 lakh votes while fighting independently and won by a margin of about 70,000 votes in a five- cornered contest.

Ravneet Singh Bittu got 3.01 lakh votes and lost to Amarinder Singh Raja Warring by a margin of over 21 thousand votes.

That is the tale of two ‘Beant Singhs’ representing two different extreme sentiments and both run parallel in Punjab. Both have bequeathed different political legacies that are serving their descendants in a good stead. 

 

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