Ever since the Delhi government approved a bill seeking certain changes in the functioning of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), tension had been brewing between the two factions led by Paramjit Singh Sarna of Akali Dal Delhi Sarna (ADDS) and Manjit Singh GK of Shiromani Akali Dal Badal (SAD-B).
The Delhi Cabinet cleared the draft of Delhi Sikh Gurudwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2012, to extend the tenure of the president to four years instead of current two years and effect some other changes. SAD said the Supreme Court has ordered DSGMC elations — already delayed by two years — by December this year and, through this amendment, the Delhi government was trying to stall a democratic process.
Sarna, who is the incumbent president of DSGMC and is backed by the Congress, has welcomed the move for obvious reasons and maintained that the change proposed by the government will make candidates responsible and accountable.
Headquartered in gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib, DSGMC is an autonomous body, which manages gurdwaras in Delhi and is crucial — both socially and politically. It runs various educational institutions, hospitals, old-age homes, libraries and charitable institutions in Delhi. Of over a million Sikhs living in Delhi, around 450,000 are registered voters for the DSGMC elections.
Office-bearers of the Manjit Singh faction said, “The amendments will also make way for direct election to the post of DGMSC president, instead of being elected by the majority.”
Sarna said, “SAD fears if direct elections are held in Delhi, the same might happen in Punjab and the Badals would lose control over gurdwaras and other institutions there.”