Chandigarh: Within days of a meeting in Amritsar of 12 senior Akali Dal ‘detractors’ demanding the implementation of the Jhunda Panel report, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) members have also launched a campaign against the Badals.
Sikh bodies like Panthic Akali Lehar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Sikh Sadbhavana Dal (SSD), Panthic Talmel Sangathan (PTS), and Sehajdhari Sikh Party (SSP) have questioned the presence of Badals’ men as SGPC officer-bearers.
Jathedar Giani Kewal Singh, ex-Jathedar of Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh, Bhai Baldev Singh Wadala, and Paramjit Singh Ranu has publicly questioned the Badals for ‘using’ the SGPC for their political purposes.
Notably, the Sikh Sadbhavana Dal (SSD), began a ‘morcha’ near Golden Temple in 2020 and has been ever since demanding justice in the case of ‘missing’ 328 Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) which had gone from the SGPC.
The SGPC jathedars without naming anyone have questioned how could one imagine SGPC to be independent if one of its former presidents was also a former minister in the Akali government alluding to Bibi Jagir Kaur.
Bhai Kewal Singh who leads Panthic Talmel Sangathan PTS, which happens to be an umbrella body of about 150 Sikh bodies has made an announcement to fight the SGPC polls with an aim to topple the present regime and bring back ‘Sikhs’ in power to take decisions about their religious affairs.
Haryana Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee Jathedar Baljeet Singh Daduwal said, “Badals are squarely responsible for the plight of the SGPC. With Badals around, SGPC is on its way to going the Akali Dal way, ie, from bad to worse. The ‘saroops’ have gone missing and nothing has been done about finding them.”
The SGPC has 175 elected members. Another 15 members are co-opted including five Jathedars of the Akal Takht. This makes the general house comprising a total of 190 members. The last elections of the Sikh body took place in 2011. Then the SAD (B) won the majority seats and had a total of 182 members including elected and nominated.
Implement Jhunda Committee Report
Earlier this month, 12 leaders of Akali Dal met at Amritsar to impress upon the party president Sukhbir Singh Badal that the Jhunda Committee report should be implemented. Those present included Dakha lawmaker Manpreet Singh Ayali, ex-MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee general secretary Karnail Singh Panjoli, former Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal, former MLAs Gurpratap Singh Wadala, Bhai Manjit Singh, Amarpal Singh Boney, Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, Jagjit Singh Kohli, and Santa Singh Umaidpuri.
What Does The Report Say?
The report has recommended total changes at the organisational level in the Akali Dal. On whether the party president’s removal has been sought, Iqbal Singh Jhunda, the panel head said, “I can’t comment on the report which is a secret document.” The report blames incidents of sacrilege in Burj and Bargari and subsequent police firing during the Akali regime in 2015 for the party’s debacle in the 2017 elections. In 2022, it could win only three seats. Also, the monopoly over the transport business of certain families is part of the report. The report has also recommended an unconditional apology regarding the incidents of sacrilege during the Akali regime.
SGPC Members Open Front Against Sukhbir
Earlier, after the loss of Akali Dal (Badal) in the Punjab Assembly elections, many current and former members of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) opened up a front against six-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Akali Dal supremo Sukhbir Singh Badal. “The two should step down immediately to save Shiromani Akali Dal,” Balwinder Bains, a member of the SGPC had then said. Also endorsing Bains’ view was Kiranjot Kaur, the former general secretary of SGPC.