July 18, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh/ Punjab (July 18, 2014): Punjab’s ruling party on 17 July took the opposition to the formation of separate Gurdwara committee for Haryana to the Punjab assembly. A resolution moved by Badal Dal was passed Punjab Legislative Assembly passed by voice vote a resolution seeking the Centre’s intervention in “prohibiting any state to interfere in religious matter of other states”.
The Congress opposed the resolution saying the Badal Dal was to blame for the formation of the Haryana Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) as they had politicised the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) for their own vested interests. The Congress MLAs said they were for all for the unity of the Sikhs when it came to making of the All-India Gurdwara Act, but the Badal Dal had no right to oppose the HSGPC.
The Badal Dal chose MLA Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC president, to move the resolution on the non-official business day, which was supported by MLA Justice Nirmal Singh and seconded by MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha, who made emotive arguments on the issue. Badal Dal MLAs Harpreet Singh and Darshan Singh Kotfatta had also listed the same resolutions.
The Congress fielded MLAs Sukhjinder Randhawa, Charanjit Channi and Ajit Inder Mofar to counter the arguments. The high-pitched debate saw Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, Education Minister Daljit Cheema, Rural Development Minister Sikander Maluka and Agriculture Minister Tota Singh arguing in favour of the resolution. Congress MLA Kuljit Nagra too pitched in pointing the loopholes in the arguments favouring the resolution.
The MLAs went on to blame and counter-blame each other for the formation of Pakistan, division of Punjab, Operation Bluestar and the terrorism movement in Punjab.
Interestingly Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) MLAs maintained a studied silence on the issue.
Non-Sikh Congress MLAs, other than the Congress Legislative Party leader Sunil Jakhar, did not participate much in the debate.
Presenting the resolution, Jagir Kaur said the HSGPC was “unconstitutional” as the matter was inter-state and the SGPC and SAD were opposing the panel as it divided the Sikhs.
She claimed there was no issue of control over money and the fight was for Sikh unity and sentiments. She further maintained Haryana Sikhs were also against a separate gurdwara panel as they had voted in favour of the SAD candidates in the SGPC polls, while candidates owing allegiance to the Haryana Congress or others lost their security deposit.
Justice Nirmal Singh read out the Section 72 (3) of the Sikh Gurdwara Act and the HS Chattha Committee report, which itself mentioned that a separate Gurdwara panel can be formed with concurrence of the Central Government and the assent of the President of India. He said the Haryana Government violated the Constitution by forming the HSGPC on its own.
Valtoha said the act of the Haryana Government wouldn’t be tolerated. He added Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was so upset with the move that he had even threatened to go on fast until death, besides resigning from the government if the Centre did not intervene in the matter.
Congress MLA Charanjit Channi said the Akalis should have presented a resolution about interference in the religious issues of the other state, but the resolution does not mention the matter of HSGPC. He also argued that the Akalis were actually violating their own resolution as they were interfering in the religious matter of Haryana by opposing the HSGPC.
Congress MLA Sukjhinder Randhawa alleged that the Akalis all these years did nothing for the betterment of Sikhs, especially those in other states, and had made the SGPC their fiefdom. He cited examples of Sikh martyrs who sacrificed their life for the SGPC but were not remembered.
Congress MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar said Sikhs were not represented by any one party and were in favour of the All-India Gurdwara Act.
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