Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne arrived in Amritsar amid tight security on Saturday after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) said it would not welcome her with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) during her visit to the Golden Temple as she is a supporter of same-sex marriages.
Wynne looked unruffled by the controversy surrounding her visit but declined to talk to the media. Though her visit to Amritsar is part of a 10-day business trip to India, it is being seen as a move by Wynne, who is a lesbian, to placate Canadian Sikhs against her pro-gay policies. The SGPC stand is in line with the view of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, which is opposed to same-sex marriages.
Soon after landing at the Amritsar airport, Wynne headed for a dinner with business delegates at a hotel. Several leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) were also present at the hotel.
Punjab govt in fix
The SGPC stand has put the Punjab government in a fix as the premier leads a 90-member delegation to build business ties. According to sources, senior SAD leaders are in touch with the SGPC to find a way out of the piquant situation and avoid any embarrassment to Wynne.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar had said on Friday that though the ‘siropa’ would not be offered to Wynne as such a move “would be against Sikh ethics”, everyone was welcome to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple.
Former Akali minister Manjit Singh Calcutta disagreed with Makkar, saying that not offering the ‘siropa’ to Wynne would be setting a wrong precedent. “I got a call from the chief minister’s office today. I have also talked to Makkar and Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh. I have told them that we should honour the dignitary with the ‘siropa’.”
“We have seven Sikh MPs in Canada and that country has made a Sikh its defence minister. It will be very wrong if the SGPC doesn’t offer her the ‘siropa’ or honour her,” he said.
“If the Akal Takht has given a direction (against same-sex marriages) then that applies only to Sikhs and not to other religions. So, the SGPC should not rake up such issues,” Calcutta added.