The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Punjab’s ruling party, claimed a landslide victory in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections held on Sunday.
Large-scale violations of the Gurdwara Act 1925 were reported as lakhs of Sikhs in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh voted. Clashes and firing in several parts of Punjab left more than 20 people injured.
The results will be officially announced on Thursday. Of the 170 seats that went to the polls, the SAD claimed victory on 157 seats.
Nearly 580 candidates are contesting the polls. Of the estimated 57 lakh voters, about 60% cast their votes. Counting of votes started immediately after the polling was over.
“Sikh masses have given a forceful verdict on who really represents the Khalsa Panth,” said chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is also the patron-in-chief of SAD.
Patits (Sikhs who fail to observe the Khalsa code of conduct) voted in polling booths across the three states and the union territory in open violation of the SGPC election rules, as poll officials stood by silently.
Supporters of SAD (Badal) and Panthic Morcha clashed at Kurianwala village in Gidderbaha, injuring one person. Three people were injured in clashes in Moga, Ferozepur and Ludhiana. Polling in two booths was cancelled in Buttarshri area of Gidderbaha. Clashes were also reported from Amritsar district in which at least a dozen people were injured.
Voting went peacefully in Haryana, with most districts recording above 60% turnout. Election to the lone Himachal Pradesh seat went off peacefully in Una district.
Punjab deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the Congress and its “front men” tried to disrupt the poll by bringing “bogus and clean-shaven” impersonators for casting votes.
The state opposition Congress hit back, accusing the Akalis of using “brute force” against their opponents. State Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh and his wife Preneet Kaur (union minister of state for external affairs) did not cast their votes.