Two anti-Chadha factions lose CKD bypoll, Santokh Singh is new head

The bypolls of the 115-year-old organisation were necessitated after the row over a video as Charanjit Singh Chadha and his elder son Inderpreet Singh Chadha were expelled from the posts of CKD president and vice-president.

punjab Updated: Mar 25, 2018 23:41 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Dr Santokh Singh,Charanjit Singh Chadha,Chief Khalsa Diwan
Newly elected president of Chief Khalsa Diwan, Dr Santokh Singh (left) and vice president Sarabjeet Singh after winning the election in Amritsar on Sunday.(Sameer Sehgal/HT)

Dr Santokh Singh was elected the new president of Sikh charitable organisation Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) in the byelections held on Sunday for three key posts, defeating two anti-Charanjit Singh Chadha factions in a closely fought triangular contest.

He defeated his nearest contender Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, a former Akali MP, by a margin of just 10 votes. Of a total of 354 votes cast, Santokh got 152 votes. Dhanraj Singh, who was appointed acting CKD president after Charanjit Singh Chadha was removed from the post after an objectionable video clip of him with a woman principal surfaced in December last, finished on third place with only 65 votes.

The Santokh group also won another key post of vice-president with Sarabjit Singh defeating Nirmal Singh, a member of the Majitha group, in a close contest by a margin of only three votes. While Sarabjit secured 160 votes, Nirmal got 157.

Though the Santokh Singh group is believed to have the backing of Charanjit Singh Chadha, the faction denies any association with the now disgraced former CKD president.

The Majitha group, however, managed a face-saver by the winning post of honorary secretary. Their candidate Surinder Singh got 158 votes, defeating Santokh Singh Sethi by three votes.

Dhanraj Singh group’s Baldev Singh Chauhan, candidate for the post of vice-president, and Gurinder Singh Chawla, candidate for the post of honorary secretary, finished on third place with 41 and 46 votes respectively.

In the 513-member general house of the 115-year old organisation, only 359 members from various states of the country reached the Chief Khalsa Diwan head office to cast their votes. Also, votes of five members were cancelled.

The two top posts fell vacant after the row over the video as Charanjit Singh Chadha and his elder son Inderpreet Singh Chadha were expelled from the posts of CKD president and vice-president. The post of honorary secretary also fell vacant later.

Chadha clout continues

Even as Chadha was sidelined after the sleazy video row, the result went in his favour as he was sending WhatsApp messages to the CKD members appealing them to vote for Dr Santokh Singh’s group, it has been learnt. Both the rival groups circulated these messages to get an advantage.

Even as Santokh Singh denied any association with Chadha, he was apparently seen defending his predecessor when the media questioned him over the video episode during an interaction soon after he was elected for the top post.

“For past 10 to 15 years, Chief Khalsa Diwan has made remarkable progress,” he said replying to a query. Chadha has been CKD president during this period.

After Chadha was expelled from the organisation, Santokh preferred the term ‘resignation’ instead when he was asked about the support extended to him by Chadha. “The Chadha group dissolved when he resigned from the post,” he was quoted as saying.

He also denied any irregularities during Chadha’s tenure.

On the video, he said, “It was a personal matter and the Chief Khalsa Diwan does not belong to an individual.”

Rajmohinder Singh, who is close to the family of former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia, was backed by the group of former CKD honorary secretary Bhag Singh Ankhi and members of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress.

Even, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) Manjit Singh GK had arrived from Delhi to to support him. On the other hand, Dhanraj Singh is close relative of former DSGMC president and SAD (Delhi) chief Paramjit Singh Sarna.

“Finally, the CKD proved that it is purely apolitical as the candidates backed by political parties had to face defeat,” said Santokh Singh.

Earlier, Santokh was CKD vice-president. He said his top priorities would be to expand the educational and welfare activities of the organisation.

First Published: Mar 25, 2018 23:39 IST