The chequered history of the subcontinent will turn over a new leaf tomorrow with the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, enabling people from India to visit the place in Pakistan where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, spent his final years. The occasion is momentous, marked by the bridging of the divide between nations and the coming together of communities and parties, professing different faiths and ideologies. All this is in consonance with what Guru Nanak taught — spreading love and respect to ensure an equitable society — as former PM Manmohan Singh said at the special commemorative session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, convened to mark the Guru’s 550th birth anniversary. The session brought together legislators from Punjab and Haryana, who sat in the same hall after half a century. ML Khattar, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Capt Amarinder Singh and Parkash Singh Badal shared the space. They were, however, unable to be non-partisan.
Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu acknowledged Badal in his speech, but Manmohan Singh, Amarinder and Punjab Speaker Rana KP Singh omitted such a mention. Incidentally, Badal and Amarinder are united on the $20 visa fee, calling it jaziya, even as conflicting reports about the need for a passport emerged from Pakistan. Both Badal and SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal are unlikely to accept awards to mark Parkash Purb, coming as it is from a Congress government, while Akali leader SS Dhindsa has agreed. The Congress and SAD said they would attend each other’s events at Sultanpur Lodhi and Dera Baba Nanak but sparred over setting up separate stages by the state government and the SGPC, and over ending monopoly on kirtan telecast and allowing women ragis at the Golden Temple.
Guru Nanak’s teachings are inclusive and have served to bring together people of various faiths since centuries. The 550th Parkash Purb would be best observed if all parties treat their differences as minor variations on a basic theme and rise above them in a befitting tribute to the Guru.