M A I N   N E W S

SGPC poll on Sept 18
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service


n Model code comes into force immediately
n Govt can’t announce new policies/schemes
n Elections to be held simultaneously in Punjab, Haryana, HP & Chandigarh
n Over 55 lakh “keshdhari” Sikhs to cast vote

Chandigarh, July 28
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the Gurdwara Election Commission to hold the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections on September 18 as recommended by the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, Justice (retd) HS Brar.

Justice Brar said the elections would be held simultaneously in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. With the announcement of the election date, the Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately.

As per the code, the state government cannot announce new programmes and policies or lay foundation stones for projects. It cannot undertake any activity that can be interpreted as an attempt to influence the voter.

In all, a little over 55 lakh voters will exercise franchise. This time only “keshdhari” Sikhs (who have given an undertaking that they strictly follow the Sikh tenets) have been included in the voters’ list. During the last SGPC elections in 2004, “sehajdhari” (clean-shaven) Sikhs were allowed to vote too.

Justice Brar said preparations for the smooth conduct of the elections were completed way back in May.

“We were only waiting for a date from the MHA, which we received today”.

The SGPC elections assume significance this time as these will set the tone for the assembly elections in Punjab scheduled for February 2011.The SGPC is considered a mini Parliament of the Sikhs. Only the Shiromani Akali Dal and other Sikh parties directly participate in these elections.The Congress, which is the main Opposition party in Punjab, does not participate in the SGPC elections directly.

The SGPC manages most gurdwaras and is involved in “dharm parchar” besides running educational institutions. In all, 157 members from 110 constituencies in Punjab, eight in Haryana and one each in Chandigarh and Himachal will be elected to the SGPC.





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