The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is zeroing in on Giani Maan Singh to take over as the jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib in place of Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, it is learnt. Giani Mann Singh is a granthi (priest) at Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar.
A formal decision is expected on January 17 at the SGPC’s executive body meeting in Fatehgarh Sahib.
As per reports, a memorandum was handed over to SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, signed by about 150 of the 185 members. The memorandum has demanded a discussion by the executive body on the issues of Nandgarh’s removal; amendment to Section 25(b) of the Constitution, whereby Sikhs are clubbed with Hindus; and the release of Sikh prisoners lodged in various jails. The process for obtaining the signatures of members, office-bearers and executive members began earlier.
Nandgarh’s removal became imminent after he displeased the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership by refusing to change his stand on the Nanakshahi calendar. The SAD leadership is backing the Sant Samaj, led by Damdami Taksal head Harnam Singh Dhuma, on the issue.
Dhuma wants the Akal Takht to revert to the lunar-based traditional Bikrami calendar. His opposition to the Nanakshahi calendar is that it has caused confusion among Sikhs vis-a-vis the dates of certain important festivals or events. The Nanakshahi calendar was adopted in 2003 during the tenure of Kirpal Singh Badungar as SGPC president.
SGPC member Hardeep Singh, who is the spokesman of the Panthic coordination committee, said Nandgarh’s removal in an unceremonious manner would further weaken the powers of the Takhts and jathedars. “Politicians take the final call on decisions to be taken by jathedars,” he added.
Makkar was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.
When changes were made in the Nankshahi calendar in 2010, Nandgarh had expressed his opposition at the meeting of the high priests. However, he went along with the majority decision and the Akal Takht approved the amended calendar of 2010.
Apart than Nandgarh, Bhaur and SGPC executive member Karnail Singh Panjoli had opposed the amendment. Nandgarh has accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of being behind the Sant Samaj push for reverting to the Bikrami calendar.