Political parties in Punjab today rejected Canada’s New Democratic Party chief Jagmeet Singh’s statement that he considers self-determination to be “a basic right” in the state.
In reaction to Jagmeet Singh’s recent remarks, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said that Canadian leaders should not meddle in India’s affairs. “They should mind their own affairs. We respect the sovereignty of our country. Punjab and our party are an unbreakable part of the Indian democratic and political system.
During his introductory tour of Canada, Jagmeet, a 38-year-old lawyer and the newly elected leader of the NDP, said that he considers self-determination to be a “basic right” in places such as Punjab, Catalonia or Quebec. He was quoted saying, “So whether it is in Punjab, for the people of Punjab, or whether it is in Catalonia, for the people of that region, whether it is in Basque, wherever that is, whether it is in Quebec, it’s a basic right. Everyone should be able to do that.”
In equating the recent separatist movements to the demand for a separate Sikh homeland, Jagmeet is echoing the strategy adopted by hard core groups such as Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), which is spearheading the “Khalistan 2020 Referendum” effort.
Cheema asked Singh, “When we don’t interfere in Canada’s internal issues, why should they?” Adding that the SAD never supported the demand for self-determination or Khalistan.
Bhagwant Mann , president of Punjab Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) termed Jagmeet’s self-determination talk a part of his domestic politics in Canada.
He said“We congratulate Jagmeet on his achievements in another country, but that does not mean he can say anything he likes or talk about self-determination in Punjab.”
Mann said, “India is a democratic country where everyone from a sarpanch to an MP is elected by the people. Punjab is very much its part. We swear by the Constitution. Punjab is the annadata (provider of grain) to the country. It has seen ups and downs but I am confident that it will regain its glory.”