With its MLAs not unitedly behind the Panthic Sewa Dal (PSD) that it had propped up, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to have pulled itself out of the contest in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections scheduled for February 26.
Party MLA Avtar Singh Kalkaji, who formed the PSD 18 months ago apparently at the behest of the AAP to contest the gurdwara polls, on Tuesday said he is not getting the expected support from the party.
According to him, two Sikh MLAs of the party — Jarnail Singh (junior) and Jagdeep Singh — and top leader Jarnail Singh, who resigned as Rajouri MLA in Delhi and contested the Punjab assembly polls recently, are not supporting him. “All three are supporting contestants of parties other than the PSD,” Avtar complained.
As per reports, all three are supporting candidates fielded by Paramjit Singh Sarna’s Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) in a fight to unseat the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). The PSD is contesting on 40 seats of the 46 for which voting is to take place.
With an annual budget of Rs 100 crore, the DSGMC manages nine gurdwaras, six colleges and 18 schools among other institutions in Delhi. It is also the representative body of over 8 lakh Sikhs in Delhi. Of the 8 lakh Sikhs in the national capital, 3.75 lakh are eligible to vote on account of having unshorn hair and following the religious code of conduct.
An annoyed Avtar said, “They should have supported me as the initiative was taken by me to form a dal (party) to contest the gurdwara polls. I am from the same party, preparing for the polls for the past 18 months, and I have equal stakes in the party. It is not fair that they are supporting candidates of other parties.”
Ex-MLA Jarnail, when contacted, denied having given support to any candidate of the SAD (Delhi), but, when pressed, he said he had attended kirtan darbars (prayers) organised by some of his friends. “No one can stop me from doing that,” he said. Asked why he is not supporting the PSD, he said, “It was Avtar Singh’s personal initiative.”
The AAP, it is learnt, is wary that the results of the gurdwara elections would have a bearing on the municipal corporation polls scheduled in near future.
Despite its denials now, the AAP’s seriousness to contest the polls could be judged from the fact that it backed the PSD and even held meetings with Singh Sabhas in Delhi to select candidates.
The PSD has opted for ‘tractor’, the poll symbol on which the SAD (Badal) has been contesting for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) headquartered in Amritsar. The SAD (Badal) contests the DSGMC polls on the ‘bucket’ symbol, while ‘weighing scales’ remain its symbol otherwise.