Two factors were crucial in turning the tide in favour of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee polls — Sukhbir Badal’s reposing full faith in party’s Delhi unit chief Manjit Singh GK and Aam Aadmi Party deciding against supporting the Panthic Sewa Dal.
Also, outgoing DSGMC president GK was successfully able to insulate his party in Delhi against the negative noises being made in Punjab. The issues of sacrilege Guru Granth Sahib and Dera Sacha Sauda support to Akali candidates in Punjab assembly polls, which were being seen as going against the party in the state polls, were non-issues in the Delhi gurdwara body elections.
When dera announced support to Akali Dal a week before Punjab assembly polls on February 4, GK was in Bathinda and he immediately took a stand against it. He was clear in saying that dera suppport was not welcome even as a number of party candidates reportedly showed up at a dera congregation. GK sensed it that it could spoil party’s prospects in Delhi gurdwara polls and his stand worked in his favour.
With AAP backing out from support to its Panthic Sewa Dal, the contest became by and large two-cornered between SAD (Badal) and Paramjit Singh Sarna-led SAD (Delhi). AAP’s tacit support to Sarna camp also failed to prop up his poll stocks, as Sikhs who earlier were rallying behind AAP’s Panthic Sewa Dal, rejected both. Sewa dal couldn’t win a single seat. SAD (Badal) won 34, Sarna’s SAD (Delhi) won 8 and two went to Akal Sahai Welfare Society and two went to the Independents.
In four years as DSGMC president, GK scored over Sarna, who remained president for about ten year till 2013. GK’s sober image and his connect with the Delhi Sikhs worked in his favour. Also, the works done for the community by his father Santokh Singh in the mid-1970s and early 1980s also paid off.
“I think people in Delhi ignored the issue that were talking point in Punjab. They gave Manjit Singh GK a positive vote. Also, he (GK) was able to translate work done by him into votes,” said Dr Jaspal Singh, who remained general secretary of DSGMC led by GK’s father.
By defeating AAP, the Congress and the radicals in the DSGMC election, the Sikhs of Delhi have sent out a clear message that they are behind the Akali Dal. The mandate is a testament of the faith of people in the SAD,” said Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal after the result.
Also, the GK-led DSGMC could make Delhi Sikhs believe that demolition of ‘piao’ (public tap) at Gurdwara Sis Ganj about six months ago was done at the behest of AAP government. He managed to involve maximum number of people from the community in the birth centenary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur.