Real hero forgotten amid credit-race among politicians 

Amid a race by leaders from different political parties to take credit for the upcoming Kartarpur Corridor, the real hero Kuldip Singh Wadala seems to have been forgotten for keeping the issue alive

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Bipin Bhardwaj

Amid a race by leaders from different political parties to take credit for the upcoming Kartarpur Corridor on the Indo-Pak border at Dera Baba Nanak in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab, the real hero who offered 208 prayers in the last 18 years, seems to have been forgotten for keeping the issue alive.

Veteran Akali leader and former MLA from Nakodar Assembly Constituency in Jalandhar, Kuldip Singh Wadala, who passed away on June 5, 2018, did not miss even a single prayer (ardas) on every ‘no moon day’- ‘Amavasya’ - at Dera Baba Nanak (within Indian side on the international border).

Talking to the National Herald, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, son of late Kuldeep Singh Wadala, claimed that the leaders of the political parties were taking credit for the project conceived by his father in 1999.

To facilitate scores of Sikh devotees, Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Nakodar, Wadala said that the idea of a corridor on the Indo-Pak border from Dera Baba Nanak (in India) to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara (in Pakistan) came at a seminar attended by his father.

“It was also an important issue taken up by former Indian Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the introduction of the Delhi-Lahore bus service in 1999. On February 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, travelled in the bus to attend a summit in Lahore and was received by Nawaz Sharif at Wagha.

Former SGPC member Kuldeep Singh Wadala along with other Sikh leaders formed a religious organization – Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib Darshan Abhilashi Sanstha- to mobilize people and to press this post-independence demand of the Sikhs.

“Wadala sahib even led 208 delegations of the Sikh devotees to perform 'ardas' no moon day at Dera Baba Nanak”, he claimed. “It hardly matters who so ever takes the credit, but the dream of my father came true today.

He often used to say, “main rahan ya na rahan; par lagda ye (Kartarpur corridor), zaroor banega”, recalls Wadala.

Former Chief Minister Sardar Parkash Singh Badal said that credit for the opening of a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib must go to every member of the  Nanak  Nam Leva Sangat who had been praying daily for the past  over 70 years

Soon after the BJP led union government approved construction of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, a cabinet minister of the Capt. Amarinder Singh led Congress government in Punjab, credited his visit to Pakistan for the decision by the Indian and Pakistan governments to build the Kartarpur Corridor.

Sidhu had visited Pakistan to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan, former captain of the Pakistan Cricket team, as a Prime Minister. During the swearing-in ceremony visit, Sidhu hugged Pakistan Army Chief thus raising a huge controversy.

Countering Sidhu’s claim, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said that Sidhu was just taking credit of the Kartarpur Corridor. “It was the SAD who had urged the union government to write to Pakistan government for the construction of Kartarpur Corridor.”

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Sardar Parkash Singh Badal said that credit for the opening of a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib must go to every member of the  Nanak  Nam Leva Sangat who had been praying daily for the past  over 70 years.

Besides hailing the Union government's decision, leaders of the Punjab unit of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP Harpal Singh Cheema, opposition leader and chief spokesperson Baljinder Kaur has demanded from union government that the process to get a visa for visiting other religious places in Pakistan may be simplified.

Meanwhile, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa also welcomed the union cabinet's decision to develop the Kartarpur corridor.

However, he also viewed the announcement with a certain degree of reservation.

Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress MP from Gurdaspur, who had earlier proposed a land swap between the two countries to allow hassle-free pilgrimage for the Sikhs, has also welcomed the decision taken by the union government.

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