AMRITSAR SAHIB, Punjab—Recent replacement of the entire SGPC executive team by the Shiromani Akali Dal authorities during the General House meeting has not only amazed the entire Sikh world but also a particular section of the Shiromani Akali Dal leaders. The previous SGPC executive team led by Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar had done its best to reinstate party’s lost goodwill among Sikh community but still the entire team has been sidelined for unknown reasons.
Following the SGPC General House meeting on November 29, entire Sikh world has been debating on reasons of bringing Gobind Singh Longowal forward by the SAD leadership. Further, the newly elected SGPC President Gobind Singh Longowal was found guilty of seeking votes from rapist Sirsa cult chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim during state assembly polls held in February 2017.
In this Op/Ed, Sikh24 editors are sharing our views on why such a drastic change by adapted by the Akali Dal.
Reasons of sidelining Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar
Everyone has a different story to tell about the sidelining of Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar from SGPC presidency despite of his recent work, intellectual capabilities, honesty & dedication towards the SGPC.
But still there are certain reasons that seem reliable. Several of them are as follow:
- Sources have informed that there was misunderstanding between the SAD President Sukhbir Badal and the former SGPC President Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar over new recruitments into SGPC after a complaint. It is learnt that Sukhbir Badal had sought a list of new recruitments into SGPC from Prof. Badungar following which Prof. Badungar sent this list to Sukhbir Badal through his trustworthy SGPC employee and Sukhbir Badal irked over it that Prof. Badungar didn’t come personally to him. Later, Sukhbir Badal also obtained the same list from SGPC’s Chief Secretary Dr. Roop Singh and the two lists mismatched.
- It is also being speculated that the Prof. Badungar’s decision of withdrawing award from writer Kuldeep Nayyar for comparing Sant Bhindranwale with rapist Gurmeet Ram Rahim proved deadly for his presidency.
- Sukhbir Badal did not benefit much from nexus with Baba Dhumma. Majority of the members in the previous executive team were Taksali leaning, which ultimately led to rising interference of Damdami Taksal in SGPC’s working. Further, the allotment of volunteer service of Martyrs’ Gallery commemorated to martyrs of June 1984’s holocaust to Damdami Taksal gave impression of Damdami Taksal’s dominance over SGPC.
- Further, Prof. Badungar’s open statements like “Talking of Khalistan was not a crime” and “I didn’t emerge out of Badal’s envelope” had ensured his termination from presidency.
- It is also a widespread belief that Prof. Badungar’s had come under sharp wrath of Akali leadership after appealing the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to direct Sikh masses to celebrate Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s birthday on January 5, 2018.
- Beside this, keeping the Dharam Prachaar Lehar commenced by SGPC neutral of Badal clan’s influence also proved fatal for the previous SGPC executive team.
What led to Gobind Singh Longowal’s emergence?
Sources within Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) have informed that the party president Sukhbir Badal had commenced search for new SGPC President several days before its General House meetings. He was in search of a veteran Akali leader with neat & clean image who could reinstate lost glory of SAD in the Sikh community.
Although, senior Akali leaders Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Balbir Singh Ghunas were the most strong candidate for SGPC presidency, the duo however were sidelined and Gobind Singh Longowal came forward.
Senior Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa played a key role in bringing Gobind Singh Longowal forward. Although the core committee leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra were in favour of Sewa Singh Sekhwan but Sukhbir Badal didn’t agree on this nominatino. Later, Sukhbir Badal proposed names of Balbir Singh Ghunas & Gobind Singh Longowal to Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Dhindsa gave nod to Longowal’s name as he is close to him.
It has also come to fore that SAD’s core committee leader Dr. Daljit Singh Cheema was in favour of once again allotting presidency to Prof. Badungar but he was only one in the core committee.
Challenges in front of Gobind Singh Longowal
Although getting reins of an apex Sikh body with annual budget of Rs. 1,106 crore is an achievement in itself but this achievement could turn into a thorny crown if not handled with proper care. There are plenty of controversial issues in front of the SGPC that will judge the capability of the newly elected President. Controversial issues like Nanakshahi calendar, which have divided the entire Sikh community like the Shia and Sunni Muslims, will have to be sorted by taking the entire pro and anti-factions into confidence.
Gobind Singh Longowal will have to give impression of no political or Badal clan’s influence over the SGPC without earning SAD President’s wrath. Responsibility of reinstating lost glory of SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars in the Sikh community is also on the shoulders of the newly elected President.
Furthermore, the SGPC president would have to utilize SGPC funds as per the principal “Guru’s bursary, Poor’s mouth”.Sikh24 Editors can be reached at email@example.com