The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Sikh community’s central representative organization, is being challenged politically by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) (SAD-B). These opponents have also started their initiatives to win over Sikhs at home and abroad.
The leading Sikh organizations that have publicly criticized the Badals for allegedly using the SGPC’s platform for their political purposes are Bhai Baldev Singh Wadala’s Sikh Sadbhavana Dal (SSD), Paramjit Singh Ranu’s Sehajdhari Sikh Party (SSP), former Jathedar of Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh’s Panthic Akali Lehar (PAL), former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sa.
People from all walks of life are gradually supporting the SSD, which started a “morcha” at the Golden Temple around 22 months ago.
The SSD is still calling for justice in the issue of 328 Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), which went “missing” from the SGPC. SSD leader Bhai Baldev Singh Wadala questioned how one could expect an independent position for the SGPC if its president was not only a SAD(B) member but also one of its previous ministers, without explicitly mentioning former SAD(B) cabinet minister and former SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur.
Bhai Kewal Singh of PTS, a coalition of up to 150 different Sikh organizations dispersed throughout Punjab, has already declared that it will run in the SGPC elections to overthrow the current administration and restore “Sikhs” to positions of authority to manage their religious affairs.
Senior PTS staff member Dr. Amarbir Singh claims that the organization will reveal its plans after district-level discussions.
Amarbir also referred to the method used to appoint the Takht Jathedars, noting that under the current situation, the Jathedars were only accountable to the person who nominated them, which is why they had performed poorly.
Bhai Ranjit Singh said that the SGPC had strayed from carrying out its tasks, particularly the most crucial one—propagating Sikhism—under the sway of one political party while on tour in Europe to win support for his PAL. “That is why many Sikhs are switching to Christianity,” he said, adding that the whole system needed to be changed, or it would reach its nadir.
As the SGPC’s sword arm, SAD(B) gives it political clout in exchange for which the party gains political advantage via its programs.
According to Paramjit Singh Ranu, SSP is conducting meetings throughout the state and has started planning for the SGPC elections.
Notably, the SGPC has 190 members, with 175 elected members and 15 co-opted members, including five Jathedars of Takht.
In the most recent elections for the Sikh body, conducted in 2011, SAD (B) gained the majority of seats and had 182 elected and nominated members.
Ranu claims that the delay in the SGPC elections is due to an interim stay in a Supreme Court lawsuit involving the Haryana Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.