Congress backed Akali Dal wins Gurudwara elections in Delhi
The Congress backed Akali Dal (Delhi) swept the Gurudwara elections of the city, the results of which were declared on Tuesday. The Akali Dal (Badal) was defeated for the elections for 46 seats of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) giving it a serious blow on the eve of the elections in Punjab.
While the Akali Dal (Delhi) bagged 27 seats, the Badal group, which had the support of the BJP, managed to get only 12 seats. The third party in the fray – Akali Dal (Panthak) which fought its first election after breaking away from the Badal group, got six seats while one independent won too.
Observers of Sikh politics said this was the first time after 1984 that the minority community has expressed its complete support to the Congress. Delhi Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely was in the forefront of the campaign and party MPs too chipped in with their support. Congress leaders said the visit of party president Sonia Gandhi to Golden Temple in Amritsar after taking over played a crucial role in getting the Sikh voters back to the party after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the city. Moreover, the Sikhs in Delhi wanted to be ruled from the city itself rather than from Amritsar. Lovely expressed satisfaction at the results. "This is upto our expectations," he said.
The Badal group, however, alleged that the official machinery was misused by the Congress to get a favourable result. Kuldeep Singh Bhogal, general secretary of the Akali Dal (Badal) told HT that elections were held in January which is not conducive for polls. "Only 42 per cent voters exercised their franchise due to the weather."
Akali Dal (Panthak) President Manjit Singh Greater Kailash said the Congress "overworked" due to the impending Punjab elections and timed it just before the February elections of the state. But he cautioned, "the issues in Punjab are entirely different from that in Delhi and the Congress should not misread the verdict."
The DSGMC manages the gurudwaras, several Sikh schools, colleges, hospitals and educational and technical institutions. It has a budget of close to Rs 100 crore annually. Elections for the body were held for the first time in 1977.
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