A Haryana government’s move to create a separate Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) rocked Parliament on Thursday, with Akali Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongly objecting to the proposal and disrupting proceedings in both the Houses.
Raising the issue in Lok Sabha during Zero Hour, Akali Dal member Rattan Singh Ajnala said the Congress government’s proposal to bifurcate the SGPC amounted to “meddling with the religious affairs of the Sikhs”.
The SGPC is a governing body —backed by the Akali Dal —that controls the affairs of Sikh community and also the Sikh Shrines.
Calling the move “an injustice to the Sikh community”, he said the SGPC was a sacred body for the Sikh community and it would be unfair to create a separate Sikh body.
Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur, too, slammed the Haryana government for trying to “create a controversy ahead of the assembly elections”.
The BJP also accused Haryana of engaging in “cheap politics”. BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia said his party would not allow “this conspiracy”. “The SGPC was formed in 1925 through an Act and the Congress government will have to come to Parliament to amend it,” he added.
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda told reporters that it had been a long-standing demand of the Sikhs in Haryana and he would hold a referendum to help Sikhs take a final call.
During the 2005 Assembly polls, the Congress had promised a separate SGPC for Haryana. Hooda constituted a one-man committee headed by the state’s agriculture minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha in 2007 to study the possibility of having a separate Gurdwara panel in Haryana.
The issue first came to limelight when seven members from Haryana out of the 170-seat-strong SGPC raised the demand for a separate body.