Close on the heels of amendments to the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925, debarring Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting in Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday challenged state Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh and other Congress leaders to contest SGPC elections.
Badal said nobody had debarred the Congress from contesting SGPC elections. “India is a democratic nation and everyone is free to test waters in any election. Moreover, the Congress has been defeated badly whenever it tried its luck in the SGPC polls,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking in SBS Nagar (Nawanshahr) as per a PTI report, Amarinder criticised the Akali Dal over the disfranchising of Sehajdharis from voting in gurudwara polls and said he would assist those who would move the Supreme Court on the issue. “Everyone born to Sikh parents has a right to vote in the gurdwara polls,” he maintained. At Kapurtthala, he categorically stated: “Congress, being a secular party, will not contest SGPC elections... But as a true Sikh I will participate in the SGPC elections and ensure that the Badals are thrown out of this institution.”
BLAME ON WATER RIGHTS
Badal, at Muktsar, also said that Congress-led governments at the Centre and in Punjab denied the state the right to water of its rivers and worked against farmers’ interest. “Successive Congress governments at the Centre and in the state completely ignored the universally accepted riparian principle while signing water-sharing agreements and Punjab was denied its right to waters of its rivers,” Badal told a gathering at a sangat darshan programme in the Lambi assembly segment.
“Had Punjab not been sharing the water of its rivers with Rajasthan, Haryana and other states, there would have been hardly any problem of depleting ground water in our state,” Badal said.
Meanwhile, supporting jewellers’ ongoing protest against levying of 1% excise duty on non-silver jewellery items, the CM said the Union government must give relaxation to the jewellers who were agitating ever since the imposition of excise duty. “The jewellers are under tremendous pressure and their demand needs to be considered sympathetically. I have already written a letter to the government of India for reconsidering this issue,” he said.