It's not only about the control of at least 11 historical gurdwaras in and around Delhi, Akali factions looking to helm the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) are aiming for much more.
The Paramjit Singh Sarna-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Delhi, which currently controls the national capital's gurdwara committee, and the SAD-Badal, which is in power in Punjab and controls the Amritsar-headquartered Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), both make noises about fighting for the cause and sewa (service) of the Sikh panth (religion). Behind the din, is the ambition to control a large number of educational institutes, huge donations at the gurdwaras, the Singh Sabhas representing 15 lakh Sikhs living in Delhi, and a strong presence in the politics of the capital.
As SAD-Delhi gets the blame of siding with the Congress-led government of Delhi for delaying the DSGMC elections, which were scheduled in January 2011, the SAD-Badal is making all-out efforts to have the elections conducted before December 31, the date mandated by the Supreme Court.
The alleged delay tactic is a proposed amendment to the Delhi Gurdwara Act of 1971 that would mean direct election of the DSGMC president, dumping the current practice of members choosing the head. SAD-Badal patron and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has written to Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh to "stop the Delhi government from meddling in Sikh issues" and make efforts to conduct the DSGMC elections in time.
But DSGMC president Sarna says the amendment (which may take at least a year to become law) is "a step towards reforms".
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