The ugly violence witnessed at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj here on Thursday was a manifestation of simmering tension among warring parties engaged in gurdwara politics in Delhi and as per observers the interference by the Delhi Government on the issue of conduct of gurdwara elections has only added fuel to the fire.
A little before the Punjab Assembly elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) had won the gurdwara elections in the State and this was cited as a major reason by the Congress leaders as a cause of their loss to the Akalis in the polls for the Legislative Assembly.
With elections to the Delhi Assembly due later next year, the Congress does not want to repeat the same mistake. The party has been supporting the Paramjit Singh Sarna-led Delhi Akali Dal in Delhi.
The Delhi Government had thus on October 8 this year approved a proposed amendment to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara (Amendment) Bill 2012. As per the proposal, every voter would exercise two votes, one for electing a member to the DSGMC and the other for electing the president directly.
The Congress believes that there is no Sikh leader in Delhi big enough to match the status of Mr. Sarna in gurdwara politics and so he stands a better chance in winning a direct contest. So once this proposal is placed before and passed by the Delhi Assembly and notified it would almost turn the tables in the Congress’ favour.
On the other hand, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), which also enjoys the backing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is seen as a more formidable force and so if the elections are held as per the existing norms, then it can pose a major challenge to the Congress aspirations.
However, the proposed amendment has not gone down well with the Sikh community at large which see it as interference in their internal affairs.
A delegation of SAD (Badal) led by Balwant Singh Ramoowalia had earlier met Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna and described the proposed amendment as a conspiracy to interfere in the religious affairs of the Sikhs for political gains. He had also expressed concern that attempts were being made to ignore the Supreme Court order for holding the DSGMC polls before December 31.
The argument of the SAD in favour of polls in the existing format is that when the President, the Prime Minister and even the Chief Ministers are elected by the elected representatives, why change the existing rules of DSGMC.
The move has also been opposed by various Sikh bodies such as Patna Sahib, Talwandi Sahib, Anandpur Sahib and Singh Sabha gurdwaras.