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Why 7 Tamil Sikhs Are Contesting The Elections

April 11, 2024 08:59 IST
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'I declared myself a Sikh. We want freedom from caste discrimination.'

IMAGE: A helicopter showers flower petals over the Golden Temple during the 489th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, October 30, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

It is an unusual sight, all right, to see seven Tamilian Sikhs in the electoral fray in southern Tamil Nadu.

They belong to the Bahujan Dravida Party and they are contesting the Lok Sabha elections with little or no funds.

Rajan Singh from Kanyakumari, Seetha Kaur from Tenkasi, Selva Singh from Tirunelveli, Naga Vamsa Pandian Singh from Madurai, Korkai Palanisamy Singh from Virudhunagar, Manivasagam Singh from Ramanathapuram and Asiriyar Shunmugasundaram from Toothukudi are all in the fray for the elections to be held on April 19.

The Bahujan Dravida Party was formed by Jeevan Singh, 51, a practising advocate in the Supreme Court. His family consists of his wife and two children. He belongs to Kadodi Nagar, a village in the Toothukudi district of Tamil Nadu.

He along with other Tamils participated in the farmers' agitation on Delhi's borders which finally resulted in the withdrawal of the three contentious farm bills in November 2021.

They were so impressed with the courage, unity, and organisation shown by the Sikh farmers that they decided to embrace Sikhism.

"We started a political party and are standing for elections as it provides a platform to spread Sikhism whose goal is a casteless and egalitarian society," Jeevan Singh tells Senior Contributor A Ganesh Nadar, on why they decided to contest the elections.

Why did you decide to convert to Sikhism?

I have always identified myself as a Bahujan.

In the year 2010 I started reading about Osho's philosophy. He writes about the sants Kabir, Ravidas and Guru Nanak among others.

I read a lot about them and also about (social reformer) Ayya Vaikundar in Swamithope, Tirunelveli.

I also studied Sikhism.

Sikhism is a call against caste discrimination. Sikhs are well organised on equality.

The Guru Granth Sahib is against caste. We want freedom from caste discrimination.

The Sikhs are brave, they are willing to wage war and they have a very good organisation.

If you read their history you will know that they fought for equality. Many Sikhs sacrificed their lives for their religion.

Christianity started for the liberation of Israelis, Islam started for the liberalisation of Arabs, Sikhism started for the liberation of Indians.

The Sikhs did not ask me to convert. I declared myself a Sikh.

What impressed you the most about Sikhs?

I participated in the Kisan Morcha along with hundreds of other Tamils.

Though they constitute 14% of the population Muslims could not oppose the Citizens (Amendment) Act.

Dalits who constitute 18% of the population could not oppose the caste system.

But the Sikhs who constitute only 2% of the population could stop the agriculture laws because of their unity, courage and self-respect.

We are better off as Sikhs.

There is a book Captivating The Simple Heart by Pieter Friedrich and Bhajan Singh which I have translated into Tamil and my wife has translated it into Hindi.

If you read the book you will understand the beauty of Sikhism, the history of Sikhism, they abolished caste names and used Singh instead which means Lion.

Why are you standing for elections?

The BJP and Congress are fooling the people. Both stand for the same policies.

We started a political party and are standing for elections as it provides a platform to spread Sikhism whose goal is a casteless and egalitarian society.

More people will talk about it as it is election time.

Why did you call me? Because my party stood for elections. Otherwise you would have never heard about us.

IMAGE: Jeevan Singh, who founded the Bharat Dravida Party. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bahujan Dravida Party

What about funds for the elections?

We don't need any funds for the elections as all the candidates belong to the Scheduled Caste our deposit to stand for elections is only Rs 12,500.

We canvass in the (Bahujan Samaj Party founder) Kanshi Ram model: 'I am coming to work for you, you must give me your vote along with a note.'

We are asking for only one rupee, but people are giving us Rs 500 notes. Your vote is your value.

Both a Brahmin vote and a Scheduled Caste vote have the same value, but socially we are not equal.

The money people give us is our election fund. People give us food.

Among the 15 lakh voters in every parliamentary constituency we will be able to meet four lakhs.

We use one car to canvass. We rely upon the media to get our message to the rest of the people.

You know people are talking about us since the elections started.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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