Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar continued for the second consecutive day as he actively participated in acts of seva (selfless service) within the sacred premises. His actions included peeling vegetables for the ‘langar’ (community kitchen), serving food to devotees, washing dishes, and helping with the shoes at the ‘joda ghar’ (shoe house). This move by Gandhi is part of his spiritual journey and a personal endeavor.
During his visit, Rahul Gandhi also spent time sitting with women devotees, interacting with them, and serving chapattis to those who had come to seek blessings at the Golden Temple. He immersed himself in the tranquil environment and took part in the ‘langar’ to partake in the communal meal.
While many welcomed Gandhi’s humble engagement in seva at the revered Sikh shrine, his extended stay raised questions from some quarters. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body overseeing gurdwaras, including the Golden Temple, expressed cooperation during Gandhi’s visit but also raised concerns about the purpose and duration of his stay, which exceeded that of most non-Sikh politicians.
In a statement, SGPC general secretary Harcharan Singh Grewal questioned whether Rahul Gandhi’s visit could be considered an act of repentance. He pointed out that the Congress leader’s grandmother had been involved in actions against the Sikh community, and his father had faced criticism for remarks during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Grewal raised issues related to reconciliation and healing touch, suggesting that addressing these issues was essential before any acts of repentance could be acknowledged.
However, some Sikh scholars and observers criticized the SGPC’s stance, asserting that it was unwarranted and out of place. They emphasized the need for a more empathetic approach and a recognition of the personal nature of Gandhi’s visit to the Golden Temple. Gandhi’s actions were seen as a gesture of humility and respect, aligning with Sikh principles of humility and hospitality.
Author Ajmer Singh, known for his critical views on the events of 1984, urged a more understanding perspective. He noted the ideological conflicts between the Congress and Sikhs but emphasized that human factors should not be overlooked. Ajmer Singh also pointed out instances where political leaders with controversial stances had visited the Golden Temple without similar scrutiny.
Paramjit Singh Sarna, the Delhi unit president of the Akali Dal, welcomed Rahul Gandhi’s visit and his participation in seva, acknowledging it as a positive gesture.
Dr. Amarjit Singh, a professor at Guru Nanak Dev University, and Prof. (Retd) Dr. Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, who authored a white paper for SGPC on the events of 1984, both suggested that the SGPC could have taken a more humble and understanding approach, considering the personal nature of Gandhi’s visit and the principles of Sikhism.
In the midst of the discussion and controversy, Rahul Gandhi’s conduct at the Golden Temple was largely seen as a humble and sincere act of devotion, echoing the core values of Sikhism.