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SGPC polls: Kirpal Singh Badungar loses favour, was non-pliant this time

It seems, he failed in “big job” assigned to him, to reconnect to the Sikhs masses, spruce up gurdwara management and dharma parchar .

punjab Updated: Nov 30, 2017 12:52 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
SGPC polls,Kirpal Singh Badungar,Badungar
SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar (right)earned wrath for the party high command for not accepting to function the way they wanted.(HT File)

Kirpal Singh Badungar, 75, who was brought in as president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) a year ago, when the panth was in turmoil after the series incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, was replaced by a new face Gobind Singh Longowal.

It seems, he failed in “big job” assigned to him, to reconnect to the Sikhs masses, spruce up gurdwara management and dharma parchar and his removal was expected and meeting with all the elected members of SGPC by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal a few days before the presidential polls, signaled Badungar’s ouster.

He earned wrath for the party high command for not accepting to function the way they wanted. Looking back at Badungar’s one year, his second term on the top post of coveted body, had controversy over appointment of five secretaries and not giving funds to the World Sikh University in Fatehgarh Sahib.

Also, his removal points towards a leadership crisis in the Sikhs’ religio–political set up that no leaders have emerged after death of Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who remained SGPC president for 29 years.

All SGPC presidents who were appointed after Tohra including Bibi Jagir Kaur, Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Badungar, could not last beyond a term of one year. Is it deficit of trust from the party high command or lack of leadership incase of all three, but baring Avtar Singh Makkar, none could go beyond a year’s term. Makkar was no favorite, but managed to stay on the top post because of a Supreme Court’s order that freezed the general body led by Makkar over a pending amendment in gurdwara act 1925, in the parliament for no vote right to sehajdhari Sikhs in the SGPC polls.

Sukhbir Badal led SAD has majority among 170 members in general house, and he alongwith his father former CM Parkash Singh Badal as patron of the party plays a key role in selecting the name to head to coveted committee.

In the fag-end of his tenure, Badungar had a clash Sikh clergy when it failed accept celebration for Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary on January 5, as passed by the SGPC executive body led by Badungar. The clergy fixed December 25, on a day clashing with three day Jor mela in Fatehgarh Sahib to mark martyrdom day of two younger sahibzadas of Guru Gobind Singh.

“Badungar remained involved in day to day management affairs, but failed to a course correction of the damage that SAD surfed during past few years, he was expected to do that. Also he was not listening much to the party cadres, that annoyed the top brass,” said a party insider on anonymity. He adds, “Badungar thought himself to an unmatchable choice, which is never true for politics”.

Mild mannered, having strong academic credentials and a clean image could not work in Badungar’s favour as was unable to create a fine balance between religion and politics. Considered a non-confrontationist having good equations with Badal-baiters on the radical side, Badungar was unable to take along SGPC members and Akali leader.

Sikh scholars speak up

Pirthipal Singh Kapur, Sikh historian, former ProVC “I don’t think Badungar has failed. A change has happened. I think coming of Gobind Singh Longowal is a symbol of generation change. Longowal grew up in a panthic environment and have learnt panthic idiom from Sant Harchand Singh Longowal”.

Prof. Balkar Singh, former head department of Guru Granth Singh studies Punjabi university, “With Gobind Singh Longowal’s appointment Sant Harchand Singh Longowal’s legacy have been revived. Kirpal Singh Badungar promoted self, and couldn’t do much for panth as was expected from him at this stage”.

Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Sikh historian “New president of the SGPC is incompetent person. He has been groomed by a person (Harchand Singh Longowal) who worked against the interest of Sikhs and Punjab. What can we expect from his protégé”.

First Published: Nov 30, 2017 09:23 IST