SAD considering Tota Singh, Ghunas for SGPC chief’s post
The annual meeting to elect the SGPC president is scheduled for November 29.punjab Updated: Nov 24, 2017 12:52 IST
In its search for a suitable leader to head the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is now considering names of Tota Singh and Sant Balbir Singh Ghunas.
The SAD has a majority in the General House of the cash-rich body, in which 170 members come through elections. The annual meeting to elect the SGPC president is scheduled for November 29.
Former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and Akali leaders Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Rajinder Singh Mehta and Amarjeet Singh Chawla are already vying for the top post, but the party is not very keen to give any of them the coveted post, sources said.
Meanwhile, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has already started meeting SGPC members to discuss with them the issues related to the functioning of the gurdwara body, and also who will be the right choice to head it.
On Thursday, Sukhbir held a meeting in Chandigarh with at least 80 SGPC members from 11 districts of Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. He will meet the remaining members on Friday, followed by a meeting with the core committee members of SAD and party MLAs.
The party is looking for a rural face, who can handle the core job of SGPC with religio-political finesse and run the body with focus on management of gurdwaras and ‘dharam parchar’ (religious propaganda). They want the Sikh clergy and various ‘sampardays’ (sects) work in coordination with the committee.
The SAD is seen as lacking in handling of certain Panthic issues after the era of Gurcharan Singh Tohra as SGPC president. Also, after a series of sacrilege incidents two years ago, the party is losing grip over its Panthic constituency and looking for resurgence via the SGPC.
TOTA A TAKSALI AKALI
Tota Singh, 75, known as a taksali Akali in Sikh politics, had twice served as cabinet minister under Parkash Singh Badal government after the SAD came to power in Punjab in 1997 and 2012. At present, he is senior vice-president of SAD and is among the few old-timers in the party. He has also worked as senior vice-president and general secretary of SGPC under Tohra’s tenure.
Besides, he wields influence among the Sikh diaspora in various foreign countries, particularly Canada.However, Tota Singh was convicted in a case of misuse of official car while being a minister. Also, the party is wary that he may not be able to handle the ticklish issues concerning SGPC.
EX-MLA GHUNAS HEADS MASTUANA ‘SAMPARDAY’
Sant Balvir Singh Ghunas, 60, is another name that party is considering to head SGPC, who is a three-time former MLA and also member of SGPC. He is associated with Mastuana ‘samparday’ and is head of Gurdwara Gursagar Sahib, Mastuana, in Sangrur district. However, Ghunas never held any important portfolio in the party or the SGPC.
TAKING FEEDBACK: SAYS SUKHBIR
“I am meeting all SGPC members to take a feedback. So far, we have not finalised any name. At this juncture, I can’t comment on the probable candidate,” Sukhbir told HT.One of his close aides said incumbent chief Kirpal Singh Badungar is also trying for a second term.
Sources said former SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar from whom Badungar took over last year is also lobbying for the post. He recently met SAD patron and former CM Parkash Singh Badal in this regard.
First Published: Nov 24, 2017 12:52 IST