Staff Reporter

Delhi Minister blamed for defeat in Gurdwara Management Committee polls

NEW DELHI: Following its defeat in the elections for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) general secretary Onkar Singh Thapar alleged here on Thursday that the poll was rigged.

Addressing a press conference, Mr. Thapar accused the Delhi Minister in charge of Gurdwara affairs, Arvinder Singh Lovely, of having been involved in rigging the elections.

"Why was a minister of the Delhi Government involved in religious matters of the Sikhs?" he asked.

He charged that the Government had targeted only 27 constituencies for rigging as it would have given the Sarna group majority without raising any suspicion.

Mr. Thapar said rigging had taken place in many constituencies but he had "proof" for only Shiv Nagar constituency, Ward No. 11, in West Delhi. Distributing copies of an audio CD that allegedly contained tapped conversation between Mr. Thapar and election returning officer Amar Singh, the party general secretary said the returning officer agreed during the conversation that he had broken the locks of three ballot boxes after the keys to them were found missing.

"The rule is that the boxes should be sealed along with their keys. The key can go missing in an odd case here and there. But the keys to the box Nos. 3, 4 and 9 of a total of 10 boxes were missing. Also, not a single vote in these boxes came to Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). This cannot merely be a coincidence," Mr. Thapar argued.

He also alleged that the returning officer had opened the main gate by breaking the lock with a hammer.

In the alleged conversation, the returning officer is purportedly heard saying he broke the lock of the main gate as the peon had gone missing along with keys.

He is also heard purportedly defending the breaking open of the boxes due to time constraint but maintaining that the boxes were opened in front of the rival candidates Manjeet Singh Khalsa and Har Mahender Singh.

The conference took a dramatic turn when Jasbir Singh Kaka of SAD (Badal), who had fought from Ashok Nagar and lost, walked into the hall and hurled accusations at Mr. Thapar and some other senior party leaders of accepting money from the rival candidate and facilitating his win.

"He (Mr. Thapar) had threatened me and my supporters and prevented them from voting for me," Mr. Jasbir Singh alleged.

There were a few angry exchanges between Mr. Jasbir Singh and Mr. Thapar before the party workers intervened and took Mr. Jasbir Singh out of the hall.

Reacting to the accusations, Mr. Thapar said Mr. Jasbir Singh had lost in the elections earlier also and this time he had lost by a big margin of around 1,300 votes and was therefore upset.