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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Punjab assembly passes resolution to hold SGPC polls at earliest

Authorises CM to take up matter with Centre; alliance MLAs question membership of Phoolka, who raised the issue, accusing him of helping Congress snatch gurdwara body management

chandigarh Updated: Feb 15, 2019 13:08 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh during state budget session on Thursday.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh during state budget session on Thursday.(HT Photo)
         

The Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Thursday passed a resolution to hold the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections at the earliest and authorised chief minister Amarinder Singh to take up the issue with the Centre, amid uproar by the members of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance.

The House passed the resolution after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Dakha MLA HS Phoolka raised the issue during the Zero Hour citing a reply by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to his letter in which it was admitted that the tenure of the present SGPC house expired in December 2016.

“It becomes the duty of the House to pass a resolution asking the Centre to hold the SGPC elections immediately. I urged the House on Wednesday to pass a resolution requesting the Union home ministry to appoint chief commissioner for gurdwara elections for which panel has been sent,” said Phoolka.

The CM agreed with Phoolka saying he would take up the issue with Union home minister Rajnath Singh and tell him that “one cannot have a democratic set-up in the absence of elections for the past three years”.

“The community has the right to early polls and delay was unfair to Sikhs. This House takes upon itself to authorise me to take the issue with the Centre,” said Amarinder while reading the resolution.

The SAD-BJP members stood on their seats and challenged Phoolka’s membership as MLA, citing his resignation. Phoolka continues to be MLA as his resignation has not been accepted by the speaker yet.

“Has Phoolka saab withdrawn his resignation or he has joined hands with the ruling Congress? Isn’t it a murder of democracy that a person who has resigned as an MLA is moving a resolution?” questioned SAD’s Dera Bassi legislator NK Sharma.

Local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu stood up to defend the Dakha MLA.

“He (Phoolka) is an elected member of the House. Jo aaj ena ne kitta hai, eh itihaas de panneyan vich amar ho gaye (He and Captain saab (Amarinder) by passing the resolution have become immortal in the pages of history,” said Sidhu.

The issue escalated into a face-off between Sidhu and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia who questioned the speaker over the membership status of Phoolka as MLA.

“We are not against holding of the SGPC elections. It is clearly mentioned in Section 10 in the Constitution that if a member resigns as a primary member of the party, his/her membership in the House stands cancelled. It’s a constitutional crisis. We don’t know who is the member of the House? We don’t know who is with AAP and who is in the rebel group. AAP has become a B-team of the Congress,” Majithia said.

The former minister also claimed that just before moving the resolution, Phoolka had a secret meeting with jails minister Sukhjinder Randhawa. To this, Sidhu said SAD has no moral right to question Phoolka’s membership as they a few days back had announced to honour him for his fighting the 1984 riots cases.

The House also witnessed a heated exchange of words between Phoolka and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu who questioned the speaker if a resolution can be moved during the Zero Hour. Phoolka got furious on this and both were seen pointing fingers at each other.

Phoolka said SAD’s reaction to the resolution has exposed who is anti-Sikh and who does not want the SGPC polls. “I fill fight till the end to free SGPC from political control. For this, I will touch anybody’s feet, if the need be,” he said.

Later, addressing a press conference, Majithia and former minister Parminder Dhindsa reiterated their claim that SAD did not oppose the resolution. “It is the same Congress which attacked the Golden Temple and murdered thousands of Sikhs,” said Majithia.

Phoolka still assembly member: Speaker

Vidhan Sabha speaker Rana KP Singh on Thursday clarified that HS Phoolka is still an Aam Aadmi Party MLA as he had not filed his resignation in an appropriate format.

“We have given him notice to file his reply on February 20. We will decide then,” said the speaker.