Hectic lobbying is on for the post of the 42nd president of Sikhs’ single largest representative body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the election for which is scheduled to be held on November 29. Incumbent Kirpal Singh Badungar, Avtar Singh Makkar and Jagir Kaur, both former presidents of SGPC, religio-political leader Balbir Singh Ghunas, former minister Tota Singh and former MP Sewa Singh Sekhwan are considered to be in race for the top post.
The key to the post lies with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Sources in the party told TOI that both Makkar and Badungar had developed strained relations at one point of their tenure as SGPC presidents with the top leadership of Akali Dal. Insiders say that the party is interested in some religious personality who could coordinate well with the jathedars of Takhts—temporal seats of Sikhs. Sources informed that party could seriously consider Ghunas, who belongs to Mastuana Sampardaya, and is a staunch politician and head of a prominent gurdwara.
At the same time, Tota and Sekhwan have a long political career and could help SAD make its grip stronger on Panthic votes and help the party in the next assembly elections in 2022.
Meanwhile, Sehajdhari Sikh Party (SSP) president Paramjit Singh Ranu alleged that election of SGPC president was being held in violation of the Supreme Court (SC) judgment and the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.
The SGPC general house was elected in September 2011, and its term as per Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, was for five years and thus ended in December 2016, said Ranu. “Due to pendency of the voting rights issue in the SC, the elected house became defunct and a 15-member executive committee of the SGPC headed by its former president Avtar Singh Makkar was allowed by the court to work as caretaker,” he said.
He said the NDA government at the Centre amended the Sikh Gurdwara Act in May 2016, debarring the Sehajdharis to vote in the SGPC elections. SSP had challenged the amendment in Punjab and Haryana high court. “Already another petition is pending in the court where the Union government has filed a reply that they have started the process for election to the general house. Then why is it allowing the SGPC to hold its presidential election now,” asked Ranu.
02 Oct 2020
03 Oct 2020