CONGRESS PARTY once managed the affairs of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) through Jathedar Santokh Singh and later in bits and parts through Sarna brothers — Paramjit Singh and Harvinder Singh. Then came the three in a row feat of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).
Now thanks to the manoeuvres of immediate past President Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the body has moved into the hands of BJP, albeit under the garb of newly-formed Akali Dal (Delhi State) in a so far a silent coup, that may attract attention in weeks to come because pending police complaints.
Incidentally, first two victories of SAD (B) in DSGMC elections were made possible by Manjit Singh GK, son of Jathedar Santokh Singh only, before he was upstaged by Manjinder Singh Sirsa, few months into SAD’s second win that came in 2017.
Sirsa took over as President of DSGMC from ‘GK’ forcing his ouster from the party levelling serious charges of misappropriation. Sirsa that time had also won the Rajouri Garden seat for Delhi Assembly on an Akali-BJP ticket.
Third straight win of SAD (B) in August 2021 was by all means emphatic with the party winning 27 of the 46 seats at stake. Attempts to get Sarna and Manjit Singh ‘GK’ to put up a united front against Sirsa had come to a naught, courtesy ego hassles. Though Sirsa lost his Punjabi Bagh seat to Havinder Singh Sarna, he was reinstalled president, after initial hiccups as nominee of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Commiittee (SGPC).
It is believed that reluctance of leadership at the outset had resulted in Sirsa, once the closest ‘buddy’ of Sukhbir Badal, deserting him and his party on December 1, 2021 and joining BJP. Without wasting time he started working on wresting the control of DSGMC.
Many, however, contend Sirsa’s ‘defecting’ to BJP was to avoid pursuance of several cases against him pertaining to ED and other Central Agencies. It is pertinent to mention here that he continued to man the ‘business’ of the body till December end that proved fatal for SAD.
Within weeks of the near wipe-out of SAD (B) at Punjab Assembly polls, Manjinder Sirsa in a typical Bhajan Lal style of politics has managed to put the entire DSGMC in the lap of BJP with his trustworthy understudy Harmit Singh Kalka, as the President.
The party under him (read BJP) has been re-named as Akali Dal (Delhi State) boasting about close to 30 members (as supporters claim) with additional floor crossings from Akali Dal (Delhi) of Sarnas besides SAD. Though officially they would like to keep BJP’s indirect control under cover, Sirsa has been successful in the first leg of the ‘Project takeover.’
Handful of SAD (B) members, with SGPC backing, may have ‘regained’ control of party and DSGMC offices at Gurdwara Rakabganj sahib, when Sirsa-Kalka team was busy hosting the Mega Lal Qila show on April 20 and 21, by ‘breaking open the locks and starting an Akhand Paath in the building, knowledgeable insist that police action is imminent at these offices to hand over, what Kalka’s men term as ‘legitimate’, charge of the place.
While all this is happening Sarna brothers and JAGO party chief Manjit Singh GK are lying low. And so is Sukhbir Badal, more busy in finding faults with Bhagwant Mann’s Government in Punjab. Only hope the supporters are nursing is a possible reunion of BJP and SAD!
As pointed, the move of ascendancy in DSGMC is part of a strategic plan (project takeover), much larger in perspective and magnitude, with far reaching consequences, aimed at creating a hagemony of Sikh Wing of BJP in the panthic institutions and Gurdwara Pratinidhi Boards of other States besides Delhi.
Three stages of the process are :
a) Having DMs and Police chiefs in more active in ex-officio roles in these bodies – this is already in happening in most States;
b) by having a distinct presence among the elected/nominated members of the Sikh bodies;
c) eyeing a definite say in Sikh polity by wrestling Delhi-type control.
The beginning was made long back. In the initial years of SAD-BJP tie-up in Punjab, it was through ‘friendly forays’ into many bodies, including universities and other bodies in the State and where ever SAD (B) and SGPC had an influence. It was intensified in last few years after Rashtriya Sikh Sangat the Sikh wing of BJP came into existence.
Since the parting of ways with Badals, BJP has jumped into no hold barred play. May be Bathinda incident involving the PM, deliberately blown out of proportions and BJP debacle in Punjab polls has something to do with recent developments. A NaMo style tit for tat! Already many Khalsa institutions and bodies like Chief Khalsa Diwan stand penetrated.
Commemoration of 4th Centenary celebrations of Prakash Purab of Guru Teg Bahadur sahib with all the pomp and show by Ministry of Culture, GOI, at the lawns of Red Fort (Lal Qila) in league with DSGMC with Manjinder Sirsa at the helms of affairs was a definite pointer in this direction.
In attendance at the venue of the two-day event were the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, a host of Central Ministers, head priests of various historic gurdwaras of Delhi managed by DSGMC and jathedar of Takht Patna sahib, Ranjit Singh ‘Gauhar-e-Maskeen’. Little wonder that Badals and other Akali leaders from Punjab were not part of event.
Lone AAP representative was Anandpur Sahib MLA and Punjab minister Harjot Singh Bains. Sikhs across frontiers may have ‘wowed’ the Red Fort event but it’s political overtones have not been missed and objected too, either.
Similar functions were organised in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – Panipat and Lucknow – last week with respective CMs being present.
Senior Government representatives/Ministers were in attendance at Gurdwara Dhubri Sahib and Gurdwara Mataji, Chaparmukh (Nagaon District) earlier in Assam where stakes are high due to a fairly sizable Sikh pockets. Assam too has sizable number of cash-comfortable Sikh institutions.
Historic places and Sikh social organisations in these State already have Govt representations on their boards. State functions were also conducted in Uttrakhand to celebrate the occasion, another focus State for the ruling party at the Centre as part of their three-point program.
For information sake, once cash-rich DSGMC apart from controlling historic gurdwaras of Delhi, takes care of many schools, colleges and institutions of professional learning, hospitals, old age homes and other charitable organisations.
Their coming under indirect sway of the saffron party and the current dispensation at the Centre aimed at winning the hearts of the minority community — read Sikhs – as part of the Hindu nation agenda, one the key planks for 2024 general elections. In their scheme of things Sikhs are part the Hindu way of life.
Not for nothing PM in recent months have taken keen interest in virtual opening of the refurbished wing of Guru Nanak Darbar at Kot Lakhpat in Gujarat’s Rann of Kutch and suo moto announcement of rope way at Hemkunt Sahib in Uttrakhand.
There are no two views about that Delhi being the National capital, DSGMC always required Centre’s cooperation to run its affairs. After Sarna brothers, even when Manjit Singh GK was at helms of affairs Congress Govt before 2014 had a soft corner for him for being the son of Jathedar Santokh Singh. The Centre under Narendra Modi was a friendly Govt for the the Delhi Gurdwara Committee for SAD was a part of NDA Government.
An old hat at Congress claims, that annual Congress spent on Akali Dal (Delhi) for keeping the flock together under Jathedar Santokh Singh was to the tune of Rs 6 cr in pre-1981 period. “But we can give him the credit for establishing chain of Guru Harkrishan Public Schools and other institutions which have a name in the society,” he adds. Jathedar Singh always had the backing of powers that be – Mrs G and Giani Zail being no exceptions.
During the tenures of Sarna brothers, affairs of DSGMC were handled with aplomb, though issues which kept cropping up now and then.
Among the DSGMC projects taken up by Manjit Singh GK was Medical College at Gurdwara Bala Sahib. It ran into rough weather, but he had good first four-year run. His men give him all the credit for second consecutive victory of SAD.
But for being stabbed in the back by Manjinder Singh Sirsa, he was an able administrator, they say. According to them the wily former Rajouri Garden MLA, Sirsa as President was busy getting publicity for he was a good orator and was Media savvy.
Common refrain has been that he was busy making audio visual presentations and took up modernisation of some services like langar, but completely ignored chain of schools under GHPS and many other important institutions. So much so that salaries of some such outfits were delayed for months. They tag him as a selfish man who was responsible deserting his two bosses – GK and Sukhbir.
They believe he has now ‘sold’ DSGMC to BJP for his own good. Gur Maryada, they claim, hit an all time low in all gurdwaras during his time with priests making objectionable announcements, sometimes laced with political overtones, immediately after morning and even Waaks (Farmans).
Sirsa lobby, however, term him as a ‘leader with a vision’. All this while Rehat Maryada is a matter of concern as the strange proclamations by the DSGMC priests in the presence of Guru Granth sahibs are continuing unabashed.
Part II of the story – Next week.
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