All is set for electing the next president and other office-bearers of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) with Amritsar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam forwarding the notification of the Union home ministry to the religious body, calling for a general house meeting of the members elected in 2011, on Saturday.
Confirming this, DC Roojam said, “I have forwarded the notification to the SGPC so that they can send notice of election to those members who were elected to the SGPC in September 2011.”
Those elected to the body in 2011 did not get official recognition as SGPC members due to the case filed by the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation, challenging the polls on the grounds that non-Sikhs who believe in Sikhism were not allowed to cast votes.
This case was dropped by the Supreme Court after the Union government barred the Sehajdharis from polling in the SGPC polls.
The SGPC chief secretary, Harcharan Singh, will convene the meeting of the new SGPC House. Being the first meeting of the new SGPC House, the deputy commissioner is expected to be present in meet on Saturday. However, as the incumbent deputy commissioner in Amritsar is a Hindu, it is likely that he may send a senior Sikh officer as his representative.
This stems from the fact that in November 2011 when the meeting of the general house took place after the September elections, the then DC Rajat Aggarwal proceeded on leave two days before the House met to co-opt 15 members. In his place, the then DC of Tarn Taran SS Johal attended the meeting.
The SGPC House has 190 members, including the five head priests, who do not have voting rights. Then there are 15 members who were co-opted in November 2011. The remaining 170 were elected through ballot from the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
In the race
Though the names 4-5 senior members of the Shiromani Akali Dal are doing rounds for the top post of the Sikh parliament, but the final call will be taken by the SAD chief and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who will be in Amritsar on Friday. He will have a closed-door meeting with the SAD SGPC members at the Teja Singh Samundari Hall.
Sukhbir probably will follow his father’s (chief minister) policy of handing over a sealed envelope containing name of the new SGPC chief. This envelope will be opened by a senior SGPC member in the meeting on Saturday. The front-runners are current chief Avtar Singh Makkar, former SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, senior Akali leaders and former ministers Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Sucha Singh Langah.
President likely to be chosen unanimously
In view of the brute majority of SAD members in the SGPC House, the election to the president, other office-bearers and the 11 executive members is likely to be a mere formality. Of the 170 elected SGPC members, about 160 owe their allegiance to SAD. Moreover, all 15 co-opted members are also likely to support the SAD.
Besides the president, the House will also elect the senior vice-president, junior vice-president and the general secretary.