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Jolt for Badal as Delhi votes Sarna way
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) led by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna today retained the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee despite Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal addressing rallies and SGPC president Jathedar Avtar Singh Makkar personally supervising the party’s poll strategy. The SAD (Delhi) won 27 seats in the 46-member body, which oversees the functioning of gurdwaras, schools and colleges in the Capital.

The SAD (Badal) won 12 seats, which is two lower than the last time. The SAD (Panthak) led by Mr Manjit Singh, who broke away from the Delhi unit of Mr Badal, was the biggest gainer by winning six seats. This was the first election by the SAD (Panthak). One seat was won by an Independent.

The elections were held on Sunday and a turnout of 33 per cent was registered in the polls. About 421 people are contesting the elections for a total of 46 seats. Though there are over 12-lakh Sikhs in Delhi, only around 4.5-lakh of them are registered voters for the DSGMC elections.

The House is of 51 members. While 46 members are elected, two are selected from various Singh Sabhas through a draw of lots and one is nominated by the SGPC. And two are coopted by the general house of the DSGMC after its constitution.

The victory of Sarna brothers, seen to be close to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, would boost the morale of the Congress Chief Minister, who would also have to fight the anti-incumbency factory. The SAD (Delhi) focussed on its achievements, especially the Palki for Nankana Sahib, which evoked much support during the procession. The golden Palki is likely to be installed at the birthplace of Guru Nanak by the end of this month.

The second consecutive defeat of SAD (Badal) in the poll is a big blow to the confidence of the Delhi unit leaders, who were confident of returning to power. However, the infighting and their inability to project a united and credible face to the electorate cost them dearly.

The biggest gainer, however, was the SAD (Panthak) led by Mr Manjit Singh. His party in its maiden contest won six seats denting the support base of the SAD (Badal). In several places, the party lost the seat by a meagre margin, clearly sending the message that he has to be watched out in the coming days.

The big message of the DSGMC poll this time has been that the electorate in the Capital want their own leadership to guide their religious affairs and does not want any outside diktat. The victory of Sarna brothers and Manjit Singh’s parties could also rekindle afresh the demand of a separate gurdwara management committee for Haryana.

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