Left with few administrative and legal options, Punjab’s ruling Akali Dal on Saturday began bracing its cadre for a showdown against Haryana’s contentious legislation to constitute a separate body for running Sikh religious shrines. Haryana’s new law, which the state Assembly passed on July 11 and governor gave assent on July 14, takes the Sikh shrines of the state out of the control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the body over which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has a firm grip.
Under a two-fold strategy chalked out at a marathon emergency meeting of its core committee, the SAD decided to convene a meeting of frontline leaders of the SAD and the SGPC in Chandigarh on July 22 to be followed by a Panthic congregation at Golden Temple on July 27 after which the “Sikh community’s war against Haryana’s Congress government” will be announced.
“This is a major attack on the Sikh community by the Gandhi family and the Congress. We will defend the honour of Sikh community at any cost,” Sukhbir Singh Badal, the SAD president and Punjab deputy chief minister said, indicating that his party was gearing up to flex muscles in a calibrated manner.
The core committee, which is the supreme decision-making body of the SAD, decided that leaders of the party and the SGPC from Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and other states would participate in the July 22 meeting here. The meeting would be addressed by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal besides Sukhbir and would decide the course of action for the July 27 Panthic congregation to be held at Manji Sahib hall in Darbar Sahib. Sikh spiritual leaders, heads of Panthic organisations and leaders of SAD and SGPC will take part.
‘HARYANA COMMITTED CONSTITUTIONAL FRAUD’
Party sources said that behind the decision to convene the ‘Panthic Ikath’ on July 27 is the perception that the political and legal picture would be clearer by then, thus helping the leaders in announcing the next course of action. “The next decision of the Panth against this conspiracy of the Congress will be announced after the July 27 meet,” Sukhbir told mediapersons after the core committee meeting. “It’s a conspiracy to split the SGPC.”
Stepping up its offensive against Congress-ruled Haryana, the core committee described the passing of the bill by the Assembly as a “very big constitutional fraud”. “The SAD is determined and will not let any move to break the SGPC at any cost,” party spokesperson Daljeet Singh Cheema cautioned. He said the SGPC came into being after major sacrifices of Sikhs.
The stand of the SAD is that as per the law Haryana has no power to legislate and form a separate committee. “That’s why,” he argued, “the union home ministry has taken such a strong step of writing to the Haryana government and the governor against the legislation. We want the union home ministry to take strict action against the Haryana government.”
In response to a question, he said that no one could stop Punjab leaders from going to Haryana and vice-versa.
HARYANA INTERFERING IN SIKH AFFAIRS: SUKHBIR
On Haryana accusing the Punjabg overnment of interfering in its internal matters, the deputy chief minister said whenever any Sikh issue comes up in the world such as the turban issue in France, it’s the responsibility of the SGPC to defend the interest of the Sikhs. “Haryana (gurdwaras) are a part of the SGPC, so the Haryana government has no right to tell us. Rather, it is the Haryana government that is interfering in Sikh affairs. It’s the Sikh community’s war against the Congress government,” Sukhbir said.
Apart from Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir, those who attended the core committee meeting were Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Charanjt Singh Atwal, Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Tota Singh, Sikander Singh Maluka, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Sucha Singh Langah and Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal.