Punjab was created in 1966 based on linguistic characteristics. With the Anadpur Sahib Resolution of 1973 and the dismissal of the Akali Dal in 1980, questions were raised by a group of Punjabi leaders regarding autonomous Sikh Identity. The extremists wanted cessation from India and the creation of ‘Khalistan’. This led to Operation Blue Star in June 1984.
• Operation Blue Star was a military initiative that was undertaken under Indira Gandhi to flush out the militants hiding in the Golden Temple of Amritsar.
• Although the army was successful, the damage done to the temple was considered as an attack on the Sikh faith which gave further impetus to the extremists.
• 1984 was a watershed year with respect to peace initiatives. The year saw the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards which led to extreme communal violence in northern India against the Sikh community.
• When Rajiv Gandhi came to power after the elections of 1984, he took the initiative to start a dialogue with moderate Akali Dal leaders.
• This led to the signing of the Longwal Accord between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the Akali leader of Punjab Harchand Sing Longowal in July 1985.
• This Accord was considered as an initiative towards peace and normalcy in Punjab.
• But the militancy continued which led to human rights violations and police excesses in the state.
• President’s Rule had to be established.
• Only 24%voters had turned up in the 1992 elections.
• Although militance was eventually eradicated in came at a heavy financial and social loss the the population of Punjab.
A state of normalce returned in Punjb since the mid 1990s and the alliance of Akali Dal (Badal) and BJP won the elections in 1997 that were held under normal circumstances.
After the elections in 2004, a consensus has been observed among most political parties.
• New economic policies have been supported by most political parties as they believe that these policies would ultimately lead to prosperity for the country. Although several groups have been opposed to such policies, they have managed to pass in the Lok Sabha mainly because of the consensus.
• Reservation for backward classes and minorities are now accepted by all political parties. This has led to reservation of seats for ‘backward classes’ in education and employment. The OBCs are also being recognised as a group that deserves it share of representation and power.
• The divide between State level parties and those at the national level is reducing. The last twenty years have seen a rise in participation from State level parties at the Centre where they have not only shared power with the national level parties but have also played a central role in policy formulation.
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