Punjab, Haryana leaders head for showdown over HSGPC
It may not have anything to do with the general public but leaders in Haryana and Punjab are trying their best to flare up things over the controversy around the setting up of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC).
The future course of the hype around the whole controversy is likely to be decided at the mega Panthic conference (Vishal Panthic Ikath) called by the Shiromani Akali Dal of Sikhs from all over the world July 27 at Amritsar's Golden Temple complex against the move of the Haryana government to set up a separate committee to manage Sikh shrines (gurdwaras) in Haryana.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is spearheading the fight against the separate committee for Haryana shrines, has clearly warned that the controversy could disturb peace in the region. But that has not stopped Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda's government from going ahead with its move to wrest control of the shrines.
From meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu, in recent days to seek the central government's intervention, Badal has been in an overdrive or the issue. Even the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, and the SGPC have been embroiled in the issue.
The Haryana assembly had June 11 passed the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, under which a new committee would be set up to manage gurdwaras (Sikh shrines) in Haryana. The bill got the assent of the Haryana governor June 14.
Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, which controls gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, will lose control over 72 gurdwaras in Haryana with the new law in Haryana. The Hooda government even went ahead, despite the protests, to announce a 41-member ad hoc committee to take charge of the shrines.
Sunday's conference is likely to chalk out the programme to fight the alleged "assault on Sikh religion, religious institutions and the Sikh Gurdwara Act-1925, by the Congress government in Haryana headed by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda at the behest of Congress president Sonia Gandhi", the Akali Dal core committee resolution stated.
The SGPC, which has a Rs.950-crore annual budget, controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines 'Harmandar Sahib' (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar.
The Narendra Modi government too jumped into the controversy with the union home secretary shooting off letters to the Haryana chief secretary and the state governor's office to withdraw the assent to the new bill. The Haryana government outrightly rejected the suggestion.
Calling the step of the Hooda government as "unconstitutional", the Akali Dal core committee, at its recent meeting here, even demanded that the central government declare the bill passed by the Haryana assembly as unconstitutional and make it null and void.
Whatever the Sikh conference decides, both governments should ensure that the posturing and fight among political and religious leaders does not spill onto the streets or even gives a bad image to religious shrines.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 25-07-2014)