The campaign for the upcoming Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections has picked up momentum in the national capital.
The Badals-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and its two splinter groups — SAD (Delhi) and Jago Party — are the main contenders for the polls scheduled to be held on April 25. The results will be declared two days later.
Besides, the Panthic Sewa Dal, seen as a non-entity, is also in the fray.
The gurdwara body with an annual budget of ₹110 crore directly manages 10 historical gurdwaras and has an indirect control over 8 gurdwaras run by the Singh Sabhas. Besides, it runs a number of schools, colleges, industrial training institutes and hospitals that are headed by its elected members for a period of 4 years.
Delhi has a Sikh population of more than 10 lakh.
Currently, the Badals-led Shiromani Akali Dal controls the management of gurdwara body. Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the outgoing president, is the party’s contender for the top post.
“We appeal to more and more Sikhs to vote in the polls. They should vote for the right candidates as the contest is for the management of gurdwaras,” said former National Minorities’ Commission chairman Tarlochan Singh, who also remained a Rajya Sabha member.
Manjit Singh GK, who resigned from the post of president two years ago, fell out with the SAD leadership and formed the Jago Party. The then president of the SAD’s Delhi unit is a strong contender for the president’s position.
Also, former DSGMC chiefs — Paramjit Singh Sarna and his brother Harvinder Singh Sarna of the SAD (Delhi) — are also in the fray for the post.
The Panthic Sewa Dal, which is contesting from 25 seats, drew a blank in the last polls in 2017 when it had the support of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has stayed away from the polls this time.
“There are a total of 3.45 lakh votes with average 7,500 votes in each ward. The contenders will have to count on every single vote,” said Jaspal Singh, former Punjabi University vice chancellor who also remained associated with the DSGMC for a long time.