Hooda’s HSGMC Card Fails to Win Seats for Congress

Bhupinder Singh Hooda
Bhupinder Singh Hooda

PATIALA, Punjab—Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s controversial decision to give his nod to a separate Gurdwara management committee for Sikhs in Haryana just ahead of the Assembly elections failed to win votes for the Congress party.

The party has been routed in nearly all the assembly segments having considerable Sikh voters. Interestingly, the BJP won around two-thirds of around 18 assembly segments with significant Sikh votes. Barring Kaithal, from where senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala was in fray, Congress candidates lost elections in all such constituencies.

Much to Congress’s chagrin, it was not even in direct fight with the winning candidates in most of these assembly segments. Except in five seats-Dabwali, Guhla Cheeka, Kalawali, Narayangarh and Ambala Cantt-Congress candidates couldn’t even secure second position in the 18 ‘Sikh seats.’

The results suggest that Haryana Sikhs are hardly appeased by the four-month-old controversial decision of Hooda government forming a separate Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC).

“At the first instance, it may appear that Congress supported a separate Gurdwara management body due to Haryana Sikhs’ aspirations of self-determination. However, it worked quite contradictory. Sikhs perceived that the Congress was resorting to its mischief of dividing Sikh the community. In Haryana, Sikhs still consider Amritsar as their religious centre and Amritsar-based SGPC as their own body. Today’s results have reaffirmed this,” said Kurukshetra resident Tejinderpal Singh Dhillon, senior vice-president of Haryana unit of SAD (Badal).

An assembly segment that epitomizes Sikhs’ reluctance towards Congress despite announcement of HSGMC is Pehowa, which is dominated by Sikh population.

Here, Congress candidate Mandeep Singh Chatha, son of outgoing Haryana revenue minister Harmohinder Singh Chhatha, finished third. This despite the fact that senior Chatha, who has been representing this segment since 2009, had played a crucial role in the formation of the separate Haryana Sikhs’ body.

Of the total 18 such segments, the BJP has won 11, including Guhla Cheeka, Karnal, Shahbad, Yamunagar, Assandh, Ambala City, Ambala Cantt and Nilokheri. INLD won five such seats, including Dabwali, Ratia and Sirsa, whereas SAD grabbed Kalawali.

Ashutosh Kumar, professor of political science at Punjab University, said, “Haryanvis are not the same what they used to be 15-20 years ago. The traditional mode of electioneering worked neither in Lok Sabha nor in the Assembly elections. The BJP’s victory in Haryana is comprehensive and the issue of better governance has overshadowed issues of identity politics. No doubt, most Sikhs from Haryana wanted a separate body, but that didn’t deter them from choosing a government which they believed would govern better than others.”


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