CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the Tourism and Culture Department to take on the arrangements for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji on a war footing to make it a mega success, carrying all political parties along, even though opposition leaders and the SGPC president failed to turn up for the first meeting of the organizing committee on Monday.
The department had sent a special invite to SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Member Rajya Sabha Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Naresh Gujral, President SGPC Gobind Singh Longowal, President Punjab State BJP Unit Vijay Sampla and AAP MP Bhagwant Mann to participate in the first review meeting of the organizing committee. However, they did not attend the meeting, which had been convened to chalk out the detailed programme of the celebrations of the 550th 'Parkash Purab' of the 1st Sikh Guru.
Tourism and Culture Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said it was unfortunate that the opposition chose to politicize such an important religious occasion by boycotting the meeting. Guru Nanak Dev ji’s 550th birth anniversary is an occasion that requires all political parties to rise above their narrow political considerations, he added.
MLA Dera Baba Nanak Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said that by abstaining from the meeting, the opposition leaders had sought to undermine the ideology of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who propagated the message of love and communal harmony to the humanity.
The Chief Minister, however, urged the department to continue to work with all political parties to ensure that the event is a huge success, as befitting its importance for Punjab and its people. Appealing to all opposition members to join hands with the government for this momentous and historic event, he asked Navjot Singh Sidhu to connect with the opposition leaders on this. Sidhu assured Amarinder that he would personally approach all the opposition leaders and SGPC on the Chief Minister's behalf to persuade with them to participate in this pious occasion collectively, cutting across party lines.
The meeting also authorised the tourism minister to set up a sub-committee to look into different aspects of the celebrations and submit their report at the earliest. With just about 18 months to go for the event, the work needs to be taken up on a war footing, said the Chief Minister, who presided over the review meeting. No stone should be left unturned to ensure the success of this pious event, which we were fortunate to be celebrating in our life time,he said.
The meeting was attended by various eminent scholars, philosophers and dignitaries across various fields of excellence. Eminent Sikh Scholar Dr Kirpal Singh, noted political sociologist Dipankar Gupta, Chairman Punjab Art Council and noted Punjabi poet Surjit Pattar, well-known environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal and Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University Patiala, Dr B S Ghuman, came up with various suggestions to build the momentum for the mega event.
The Chief Minister asked them to submit their proposals and suggestions to the Tourism and Cultural Affairs Department to enable the state government to finalize the modalities for the event. Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh said that would enable the State Government to forward a composite proposal to the Government of India to seek requisite funds.
Prominent among those who attended the meeting included Cabinet Ministers Charanjit Singh Channi, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Razia Sultana, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, MLA Sultanpur Lodhi Navtej Singh Cheema, Maharaja of Kapurthala Brig. (Retd.) Sukhjit Singh, Chairman Anad Foundation Bhai Baldeep Singh, Director National Institute of Punjab Studies Bhai Veer Singh Sahitya Sadan New Delhi Mohinder Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Housing and Urban Development Vini Mahajan, Principal Secretary Tourism and Cultural Affairs Vikas Pratap, Commissioner Jalandhar Division Raj Kamal Choudhury, and Chairman Punjab Pollution Control Board K S Pannu.