AMRITSAR SAHIB—The merger between Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Damdami Taksal (Dhumma Faction) has come with little surprise. However, this announcement has left many wondering about the future of Damdami Taksal, which not too long ago was respected by all Panthik organizations as an unparalleled Sikh body.
Ever since the martyrdom of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, many ups and downs have been seen in the Damdami Taksal’s control and organization. Currently there are many factions and splits, but Baba Harnaam Singh Dhumma enjoys a greater following over other Jathedars. How Baba Dhumma came to fill the position of one of the Panth’s most charismatic leaders of all time, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindrawale, is a mystery. Before being appointed Jathedar at the Damdami Taksal headquarters, Baba Harnaam Singh Dhumma had little presence in Panthik circles. He lived isolated in the United States of America without having much to contribute to the Panth at a larger scale.
The decision to join hands with Parkash Badal in the upcoming elections has once again revealed the true colors of Dhumma. The mystery of why the SGPC reverted back the Nanakshahi calendar has probably been solved now as the recent news suggest that Baba Dhumma must have signed a deal with the Badals to allege support in the upcoming elections if the Nanakshahi calendar was revoked. Previously, the Damdami Taksal and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) were seen as staunch rivals.
Joining hands with the Badals means victory to Baba Dhumma on two fronts. By having the Nanakshahi calendar revoked, Baba Dhumma won the support of a majority of Sikh sampradas which hold allegiance to the Sant Samaj. In addition, the SAD (B) and SGPC will also recognize Baba Dhumma as the rightful successor of Baba Thakur Singh Ji, Bhindrawale and Sant Jarnail Singh Ji, Bhindrawale. It should be noted that the same SAD (B) which Baba Dhumma is now supporting, at one time had announced Baba Ram Singh as the Jathedar of Damdami Taksal.
In addition to working with the SAD (B), Baba Dhumma is also trying to find support within the SGPC. Just two months ago in June 2011, SGPC President Avtar Makkar was invited to speak at Mehta Chowk where he was bestowed with a siropa by Baba Dhumma and other Sant Samaj leaders.
Baba Dhumma had praised Surinder Badal, wife of Parkash Badal at her funeral in June 2011. Dhumma alleged that Mrs. Badal was a “great Gursikh” who performed selfless service for the betterment of the Panth. At the funeral, Dhumma shared the stage with many notorious anti-Sikh and right-wing, extremist Hindutva leaders.
To work with the Shiromani Akali Dal (B), Baba Dhumma is going directly against the Taksal’s history. In 1996 and 2004, the Taksal had worked actively to defeat candidates nominated by Parkash Badal. This is definitely the first time that Damdami Taksal will be providing any direct support to the Badals. Furthermore, Parkash Badal is known to keep proximity with several anti-Sikh cults, including the Naamdharis, Noormehal and also Sacha Sauda. In 2005, Baba Dhumma had requested Sri Akal Takht Sahib to summon Parkash Badal when he labelled Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale a terrorist and member of Congress (I) during a debate in India’s Vidhan Sabha.
The announcement that the so-called official Jathedar of Damdami Taksal will support SAD (B) leaves one to question: “Would Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale ever allow such misconduct by Damdami Taksal?”