Though AAP MLA’s outfit is also in the fray, key contest is still within SAD (Badal) and SAD (Delhi)
New Delhi: After almost a month-long high voltage campaign which saw lot of accusations and mudslinging, apart from the ruling group also hard-selling its achievements of past four years, the day has come when a total of 3,80,091 voters will exercise their franchise on Sunday for electing the members to run Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) for next four years.
According to information, of the total as many as 1,92,691 voters are men and 1,87,400 are women. Further, there are 335 candidates for 46 seats, including 184 Independents. The Directorate of Gurdwara Elections has set up around 560 polling stations throughout Delhi, and as many as 25 observers have also been appointed to observe the polls. Around 3,000 polling officials will be performing various duties.
The results of the polls will come on March 1, exactly 10 days ahead of Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls which were held on February 4.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) led by sitting DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK and Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) led by former president Paramjit Singh Sarna are the main rivals, whereas this time Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Avtar Singh Kalkaji’s outfit Panthak Sewa Dal has also entered the fray. Notably, the AAP has declared not contesting the polls but there is no doubt about the party backing Panthak Sewa Dal.
Apart from these, former Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh’s Akal Sahai Welfare Society and former Darbar Sahib Hazoori Ragi Beldev Singh Wadala’s Sikh Sadbhawana Dal are also being considered as the potential parties, but not as much as the GK and Sarna groups.
The polls are much important in Delhi as these have come just ahead of the municipal polls. Further, for the majority of Sikhs associating themselves with Punjab, the campaign of the DSGMC polls has significantly seen all parties and candidates mentioning the incidents took place in Punjab. The political atmosphere of Punjab kept dominating the whole campaign, with all groups launching verbal attacks to accuse the SAD (B) of every incident of negative character, most specifically the sacrilege of holy books.
Apart from this, the support of Dera Sacha Sauda to SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab Vidhan Sabha polls also raked up by the opponents, quite prominently in the DSGMC campaign.
The use of information technology, specially the social media through whatsapp and facebook, was much in sight. Everyone slammed the rival without even bothering the reality. It was also interesting to observe that Sarna group played the whole game on the negative campaign whereas the ruling GK group opted to defend by not only countering the allegations but also highlighting its four years achievements.
The DSGMC’s general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who had defeated Paramjit Singh Sarna, is again in direct contest with his rival from the same segment-Punjabi Bagh-the verbal shelling from both sides kept hogging the media attention.
GK-Sirsa group appealed masses to keep Sarna group away from the DSGMC alleging that they had looted the committee during their rule of over a decade, the Sarna group challenged his rivals to prove the charges.
It was interesting to observe that the same Dera Sacha Sauda, whose head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is in controversy for facing numerous criminal cases and also for allegedly hurting Sikh sentiments by one of his acts in 2007, which was being approached by every political party and leader to seek votes in Punjab, was no one’s choice this time. Rather, every candidate wanted to keep himself away from the “allegation” of being close to the dera in any manner.
In a first in recent years, the top Punjab leadership was missing from the campaigning scene and those who were involved just remained behind the curtains. Though Sarna had come in support of Amarinder Singh in Punjab, it was not the vice-versa in Delhi. The voters and leaders of the SAD (B) also missed their top leadership on the battlefield.
According to the Directorate of Gurdwara Elections, which comes under the Government of NCT of Delhi, that is there to ensure a smooth election process, and also responsible for carrying out amendments in Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, the election is held to manage nine historical gurdwaras, and schools, colleges, hospitals affiliated to them. The city has several gurdwaras of historical significance, including Gurdwara Rakabganj, Bangla Sahib, and Sis Ganj.
The House has control over matters related to Sikhs, besides global connections and direct links with the Central government, with an annual budget of Rs 100 crore. Moreover, the DSGMC President is the leader of the Sikhs in the national Capital. Essentially, it is second only to the Amritsar-headquartered Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
The DSGMC works according to the rules and regulations laid out in Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1971. The eligibility norms to become an elected member of the committee require a person to be minimum 25 years of age, an ‘amritdhari’ Sikh, who does not trim his hair, does not take alcoholic drinks and is able to read and write in Gurumukhi script.
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