The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Saturday got its new president in Kirpal Singh Badungar, who has held the post earlier too over a decade ago. But what’s the SGPC and why is it important? Here are some answers.
What is the SGPC?
Considered a mini-Parliament for the Sikhs, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee came into existence during British rule by way of the All India Gurdwaras Act 1925. It controls management of historical gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, which have a connection with the ten Sikh gurus.
What’s the budget?
Annual budget passed was Rs 1,100 crore for the year 2016-17. Major chunk comes as donation, primarily from thr Golden Temple, Amritsar. SGPC also runs a number of schools and colleges.
Why is it powerful?
Religion has a strong connect with the politics in Punjab, and SGPC controls three of the five takhts (temporal seats) of Sikhs – Akal Takht at Amritsar, Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo, and Takht Kesgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib, which are in Punjab. Takhts are a guiding force for the Sikh religion. Sikh diaspora remains closely linked to the gurdwaras, and helps SGPC stays close to the Sikhs worldwide.
Who controls now?
Sukhbir Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal controls it. The party has for most of the years after partition in 1947 controlled SGPC and has been drawing tremendous power from it.
The SGPC power will aid the SAD in the upcoming assembly polls in Punjab, which is seeing an insider-outsider and religion-tinged campaign in a field that has not only the Congress but also the Aam Aadmi Party this time. Most of the 170 members elected to the general house of the SGPC belong to the ruling Badals’ Akali Dal and every member has influence in his or her areas. During assembly polls, these members also campaign for the party.