Tara Singh Malhotra - Master Tara Singh Becomes Undisputed Leader of The Sikhs

Master Tara Singh Becomes Undisputed Leader of The Sikhs

From 1930 onwards, with Master Tara Singh taking over the reins of Sikh politics, the importance of the Shiromani Akali Dal increased in Sikh affairs. His thought process, ideology and leadership style were shaped and conditioned by a strong desire to protect the distinct Sikh, socio-cultural identity and to promote Sikh interest and aspirations which were directly linked with the independence of the country. This dual loyalty towards the Sikh-Panth and towards Indian nationalism appeared to be confusing and contradictory to many of his contemporaries. But, according to him there was no incompatibility, he considered both complimentary to each other. Under his leadership the primary political objective of Shiromani Akali Dal became the pursuit of greater political leverage for the Sikhs as a community.

Despite Master Tara Singh's control of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Baba Kharak Singh remained popular with the Sikhs for some years. Gradually his followers joined other parties because his Central Akali Dal had no definite political programme except the anti-Akali attitude.

Sardar Mangal Singh, Sardar Mehtab Singh and Giani Sher Singh also could not maintain their hold over the Sikh masses or could emerge as the undisputed leader of the Sikhs as they could not maintain a balance between the nationalist forces and the religious aspirations of the Sikh masses. Sardar Mangal Singh conceded to the Congress policies. Sardar Mehtab Singh was branded as collaborator of the government after his conditional release from jail and Giani Sher Singh was considered near to the Maharaja of Patiala and was against spreading the freedom movement in the princely states, so none but Master Tara Singh could emerge as an undisputed leader of the Sikhs.

The success of Master Tara Singh in emerging as a powerful leader of the Sikh community could be made possible only by his unrelenting pursuit of Sikh interests. To safeguard Sikh interests he joined the struggle against British imperialism. Strategy of combining the movement of Sikhs for the liberation of Gurdwaras and his goal of protecting interests of the Sikh community with the struggle against British imperialism. He was also able to enlist the support of the Indian National Congress for the struggle of Sikhs which further helped him to gain ascendancy in Sikh Politics. The Akali Dal led by Master Tara Singh was able to unite the rural and urban classes on a common platform, on the basis of its general stand based on the Sikh nationalism and Indian nationalism.

The greatest assets of Master Tara Singh, which ensured his leadership during this period was his continued ability to equate the Shiromani Akali Dal with the Khalsa Panth. His popularity as against the other leaders could also be attributed to the fact that although he combined the struggle of the Sikh community with the National Movement, yet, he always gave priority to the cause of the panth. He did not hesitate to reject the 'Nehru Report' as it did not comply with the Sikh interests. His ascendancy was also possible due to his control over the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and Shiromani Akali Dal, which provided him with organizational structure and patronage to consolidate his position. It also gave him the effective media for political communication.

As the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee had emerged as the religious parliament of the Sikhs, the dominance over it gave him the legislate authority to be the chief representative of the community. His dominant and charismatic personality also helped him to emerge supreme. By his gallant and fearless participation in 'Gurdwara Reform Movement' as well as the movements started by the Indian National Congress for liberation of the country, he acquired the image of a hero. He was able to project himself as a selfless, honest and an incorruptible leader who was not interested in power but was dedicated to the cause of his community. Thus after the 'Gurdwara Reform Movement' from the cluster of leaders it was Master Tara Singh who was able to emerge as a leader, to provide leadership to the community for the next turbulent years, which were once more to change the course of the Sikh community and the history of the country.

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