Many opposed 1985 Punjab accord: Arjun Singh

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 03, 2012 13:49 hrs

New Delhi: While right-thinking sections of the political leadership welcomed the 1985 Punjab accord, some forces were able to sabotage its key elements and render it 'infructuous', Arjun Singh, then the state's governor, says in his posthumously-published memoir.

Singh, who was the Punjab governor March-November 1985, had worked for the accord signed between prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sant Harchand Singh Longowal of the Akali Dal.

The book, 'A Grain of Sand In The Hourglass of Time' (Hay House), co-authored by Ashok Chopra, says 'The first leader to openly oppose the accord was the former chief minister of Haryana, Bhajan Lal.'

'At the December 1985 All-India Congress Committee Session in Bombay, he made a very provocative speech against the accord and threatened that if Chandigarh was given to Punjab, he would not allow any Sikh to cross his state to reach Delhi,' Singh says.

It was abvious that Bhajan Lal was not alone in his opposition to the accord, 'but he was a front for a group of bureaucrats and politicians including Arun Nehru, P. Shiv Shankar (then a union minister) and Gopi Arora (a bureaucrat in the Prime Minister's Office),' the book says.

'This group was never favourable to any rapprochement between the centre and the Sikhs. Operation Bluestar, probably the most unfortunately event in the post-Independence era that ultimately resulted in the assassination of (prime minister) Indira Gandhi was itself the result of machinations of such individuals who wanted to keep the Punjab pot boiling,' the book says.

'As per the accord, it had been agreed that Chandigarh would be transferred to Punjab and Haryana would get a new capital.

'There was a huge emotional upsurge in Punjab welcoming this provision, but at the same time, it had a negative impact on Haryana, though the new capital of the latter state was to be built using funds from the centre,' Singh said.

'As Chandigarh, itself a union territory, was the common capital of both Chandigrah and Haryana, it was not something extraordinary that had been promised. However, this clause was definitely sufficient to incite the people of Haryana against the decision,' the book says.

At the height of this agitation and after Longowal was assassinated in August 1985, 'no other Sikh leader had the moral authority to insist on' the 'full implementation' of the accord, this derailing it, the book says.

More from Sify: