Gobind Singh Longowal remains frontrunner for SGPC president’s post, againUpdated: Nov 23, 2020, 02:39 IST
Incumbent Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal has again emerged as a frontrunner in the race for the top post in the upcoming annual elections despite facing allegations of mishandling of the issue of missing 328 Guru Granth Sahib saroops.
Besides electing the president, the SGPC general house will assemble on November 27 to choose vice-president, junior vice-president, general secretary and the 11 executive members.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who takes a final call to choose the top brass of the gurdwara body, is meeting the SGPC members in Chandigarh these days.
Longowal, who is serving as the president for last three consecutive years, is seen as trustworthy and loyal by the SAD chief. An SGPC member said, “Longowal is a perfect yes man for the Badals and this will go in his favour. He even takes minor administrative decisions with the consent of Sukhbir.”
“If the incumbent president is replaced, some senior faces in the SGPC house such as Tota Singh and Jagir Kaur may feel jittery amid a threat of revolt. Keeping the reins in hands of Longowal will be a safe bet for SAD,” said a member from Ludhiana district after holding a meeting with Sukhbir.
A former executive committee member known for dissent within the SAD, said, “He does not take any decision on his own. In the current scenario, Sukhbir is not likely to take any chance by giving the reins to someone who poses challenge to his authority.”
Secondly, the Badals are facing challenge from the Dhindsas (Rajya Sabha member Sukhbir Singh Dhindsa and his son MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa) who turned rebels and floated a splinter party with the same nomenclature ‘Shiromani Akali Dal’ adding a suffix ‘Democratic’ to it.
“The Badals picked Longowal from the bastion of the Dhindsas. Till the Dhindsas pose a challenge to them, Longowal will remain their top choice,” he added.
Talwinder Singh Butter, who writes on the gurdwara body affairs, said, “This is for the first time in the recent years that no other face has emerged as a frontrunner to replace the incumbent president ahead of the annual polls.”
Though names of senior Akali leaders Jagir Kaur, who has been SGPC president earlier, and former Punjab minister Tota Singh, are also doing the rounds, their seniority is a hurdle in their way of getting the top post. During the SGPC budget session recently, Jagir Kaur had even questioned the ability of Longowal in dealing with the issue of the missing saroops.
Incumbent general secretary Harjinder Singh Dhami is also being seen as a candidate for the job as an educated face but he lacks political influence. Balbir Singh Ghunas will be on the forefront in the race if the SAD wants Dalit face for the position.