Separate SGPC: Hooda’s attempt to woo Haryana's Sikh voters

Hooda with Sikh leaders in Bind. (PTI)
The Bhupinder Singh Hooda Government's decision to form Haryana Sikh Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, a separate body for managing Sikh shrines in the state, to woo 47 lakh Sikh voters in the State ahead of assembly polls has fanned a controversy with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) calling it a conspiracy.

SAD has warned the Congress against a conspiracy to weaken the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), known as the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, by trying to create a separate Sikh body to take control of gurdwaras in Haryana.

What is the reason for spar?

The SGPC controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines, and 72 in Haryana which accounts for a revenue of Rs 950 crore annually. If the Hooda Government goes ahead with its move, then SGPC will lose control over Sikh shrines in Haryana and pose a loss of Rs 100 million to its coffers.

To garner support from a section of Sikh leaders from the State which has been demanding a separate Sikh body for shrines in Haryana, Hooda Government had raised this issue in 2009 assembly polls. Now, that the elections are on the verge, Hooda Government wants to lure the Sikh vote-bank by fulfilling its promise.

Hooda banking upon 47 lakh Sikh voters in Haryana to come in power

Terming the move as politically motivated, Akali Dal spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema has said it has become a habit of Hooda to raise the issue for a separate Sikh body each time when election is approaching.

"The Government in Haryana is illegally and unconstitutionally trying to break it. The Akali Dal is well aware of the evil design of the Congress and will not allow the division at any cost," Cheema said.

Hooda Government's face saving attempt:

The Hooda Government, which is now staring at an anti-incumbency sentiment in the state, is now banking upon 47 lakh Sikh voters in Haryana to come back to power for the third time. Hooda's five-year term as Chief Minister has been mired in controversies and land scams.

He has called a Sikh convention at Kaithal on July 6 where participants are likely to take a final call on the issue.

Leaders of the SGPC and the Akali Dal met Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week to urge the Centre to stop the Haryana Government from announcing a separate gurdwara body. They have also threatened to challenge the move in court therefore the Congress regime is also exploring the legal route to get the draft passed.

Hooda is facing credibility crisis as Congress under his leadership bagged only one out of 10 seats in Haryana in the Lok Sabha polls as against 9 seats it had won in 2009 general elections. He is also facing internal criticism for party's debacle in Lok Sabha poll from senior party leaders.

With his appeasement polity, the Congress strongman wants to improve his image.

As far as SAD is concerned, the party does not want to lose its monopoly among Sikh voters by constitution of HSGPC.

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