Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Amritsar, February 2. After the SGPC elections in September 2011 and the just-concluded assembly poll, it is now time for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections which will see the ruling SAD locking horns with the SAD (Delhi) headed by Paramjit Singh Sarna, who is also the DSGMC chief.
The Gurdwara Election Directorate, New Delhi, has set the ball rolling and the election process will begin on February 16 while the polling will take place on March 11. The filing of nominations will begin on February 16. The scrutiny will take place on February 23. The last date of withdrawals is February 25.
After the rough and tumble of state politics, the ruling SAD is now gearing up for the DSGMC elections. As directed by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar will meet leaders of the party’s Delhi unit tomorrow and evolve a poll strategy.
Talking to The Tribune, Makkar said the elections would be fought on the issues of “misappropriation” of gurdwara funds and “violation” of the Sikh maryada in the shrines. He said their poll plank would be transparent management of shrines as per the “maryada” and proper upkeep of schools, colleges and hospitals run by the DSGMC. The SAD was banking on anti-incumbency apart from Sarna’s proximity with the Congress to make inroads into the DSGMC.
Sarna claimed a sea change in the facilities provided to devotees at the Sikh shrines in New Delhi over the past four years.
“Already, projects worth Rs 500 crore are underway at Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib and Gurdwara Sisganj Sahib and another Rs 100 crore will be spent on other gurdwaras in Delhi. “The quality of education in our institutions has vastly improved and we plan to open more colleges and public schools in future,” he said.
He claimed the SGPC was no match to the DSGMC when it came to managing gurdwaras. On the party candidates for the DSGMC poll, Sarna said members who had performed well would be fielded again. There would be some new faces.
He said Makkar should stop dreaming about winning the DSGMC elections as “he and his political masters have bitten the dust twice in Delhi in the past.”
The SAD (Delhi) had won 27 of the total 46 seats in the DSGMC elections in 2007 while the SAD had won 12 seats. Six seats were captured by the SAD (Panthic) led by Manjeet Singh and one had gone to an Independent. The DSGMC comprises 51 members, including five nominated members. It is governed by a chairman and a president as per the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971.
The term of the DSGMC is four years. Of over a million Sikhs living in Delhi, 4.5 lakh are registered DSGMC voters. The DSGMC is an autonomous body which manages gurdwaras educational institutions, hospitals, old-age homes libraries and other charitable institutions in Delhi. The SAD is expected to formulate a poll strategy at a meeting in Delhi on February 5.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal are expected to attend the meeting.
Sarna had canvassed for Congress candidates in the just-concluded Vidhan Sabha elections in Punjab, addressing meetings in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib.
Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SAD, talking to The Tribune, claimed: “We will win the elections and take control of the DSGMC this time”.