Around 400 candidates are in the fray for 46 seats of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections to be held on January 27.
The Directorate of Gurudwara Elections released the final list of candidates late on Thursday evening. Apart from the candidates of the four main parties -Akali Dal (Delhi), Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Kendriya Guru Singh Sabha and Akali Dal (Delhi-UK) - several independent candidates are also in the fray.
While the Akali Dal (Delhi) is said to have the backing of the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) is a BJP ally in Delhi as well as in Punjab and Haryana. Kendriya Guru Singh Sabha is promoted by Congress MLA Tarwinder Singh Marwah.
Though the DSGMC has 51 members, only 46 are elected members and five are nominated. The president of the committee is elected by the members of the committee. On January 27, votes will be cast for 45 seats, as the Akali Dal (Delhi) candidate for the Gandhi Nagar seat has already been elected unopposed.
The DSGMC elections are not just considered the most prestigious elections in the Sikh community, it also has a bearing on assembly as well as parliamentary elections in Delhi.
The president of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Committee is considered a powerful Sikh leader and every political leader tries to have him on their side. The outcome of the Gurudwara elections has an impact on about 25-30 assembly seats and two parliamentary seats in Delhi.
The DSGMC is a cash-rich committee and enjoys control over 10 historical Gurudwaras, funds about 200 smaller Gurudwaras in the Capital and manages 30 schools, 15 higher education colleges, 5-6 hospitals and about 15 dispensaries.
Though there are about 10 lakh Sikh voters in the Capital, the number of voters who cast their votes in the Gurudwara elections is just about four lakh. "There are strict conditions to be a voter in these elections. Only Sikhs, who have never trimmed their beard, have never consumed liquor and follow the Sikh tenets can register themselves as voters in Sikh elections," said a senior Gurudwara elections officer. The DSGMC elections became controversial after the Congress government in Delhi tried to amend the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act.