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SGPC presidential poll: Members backed by Congress, AAP join hands to oppose SAD candidate

At least two dozen members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), with direct or indirect allegiance to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress, plan to join hands and field a presidential candidate in the elections scheduled for November 29.

HT has learnt that the group has named itself as the ‘Panthic Morcha’. In the group, there are five members who owe allegiance to the AAP; eight are with the Congress; one member each is from the Sant Samaj and the Dal Khalsa; two Independents and Balwinder Singh Bains from the Lok Insaaf party (LIP).

“This time, we will not let the presidential election pass unopposed, we are planning to field our candidate,” said Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, a former general secretary of the SGPC, In November last year, Bhaur had joined the AAP to become its vice-president, through he now says he never accepted any post in the party, but supported the AAP after Arvind Kejriwal came to his house.

Other than Bhaur, Surjeet Singh Garhi, Nirmail Singh Jaulan, Sarbans Singh Manki and Kuldeep Kaur Tohra, who were in the Shiromani Akali Dal, got elected as SGPC members and joined the AAP before the January assembly polls, are also with Bhaur. Manki and Tohra contested the assembly polls on an AAP ticket. Garhi and Jaulan supported AAP candidates in their areas.

Before the 2016 presidential polls, when Kirpal Singh Badungar became the SGPC president after the removal of Avtar Singh Makkar, a splinter group of at least 22 (among the 170 elected members of the SGPC) fielded Surjeet Singh Kalabula. Bhaur, who was part of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) then, persuaded Kalabula to withdraw his candidature and Badungar was elected unopposed. At the time, there was considerable anti-SAD sentiment in 2016 due to Bargari sacrilege and the Behbal Kalan killings of protesters in police firing.

Bhaur told HT that he was in touch with 36 SGPC members who would oppose the candidate fielded by SAD that has the majority of members in the House. Jaulan and Garhi were also in the SGPC executive body that Makkar led.

SGPC members who have shifted allegiance to the Congress include Surjeet Singh Tugalwal, Amrik Singh Shahpur, Sukhjeet Singh Lohgarh Kaka, Jaswant Singh Purain and Indermohan Singh Lakhmirwala. They say they are in touch with more members as well.

Balwinder Singh Bains of LIP said, “Those who don’t want to function under the family rule of Badals and have a panthic bent of mind can join the Panthic Morcha group.”

“The SGPC, controlled by the SAD, has failed to protect the panthic maryada. This the reason for the downfall of Sikhs and Sikhism. The party was part of most controversial decisions taken by the SGPC in the past, such as the scrapping of the Nanakshahi calendar, taking part in the Kumbh Mela and removal of Balwant Singh Nandgarh as the jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib,” Bhaur said, leading the tirade against the candidate that the SAD will field.

“I was unhappy with the SAD style of functioning, so decided to quit. Forty members are in touch and we will finalise a poll strategy a day before the polls,” Garhi said.

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