Badal to Sheila: Why amend the gurdwara Act?

A day after Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit asked the Shiromani Akali Dal not to interfere in gurdwara matters, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal hit back and asked her to explain the rationale behind amending the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act.

"Before questioning the role of the SAD in the affairs of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Dikshit must explain the rationale behind the ill-conceived move of amending the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971, enacted by Parliament," Badal said.

He said the SAD had every right to participate in the affairs of the DSGMC "because (it) had fought valiantly in the gurdwara reforms movement".

He said Dikshit should not "forget" that the SAD was contesting the DSGMC elections since its inception, and was the right to raise its voice against "any interference by the government in the religious affairs of the Sikhs".

Badal called the proposed amendment by the Congress government in Delhi was "a direct onslaught on the rights of Sikhs" and said he had taken up the matter with the Prime Minister.

Badal also alleged that DSGMC chief Paramjeet Singh Sarna was the 'B' team of the Congress. "The ulterior motive of the Delhi government, behind the proposed amendment, is to delay the DSGMC general elections, which were slated for January last year," he said.

In a statement, SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema "reminded" Dikshit that in 1970 the then SAD president Sant Fateh Singh led a march in Delhi, demanding a democratic body on the pattern of SGPC for the management of Sikh shrines in the Capital.

"Parkash Singh Badal and 16,000 other SAD leaders and workers went to jail for this march," Cheema said. He said the DSGMC came into being as a result of the sacrifices made by the SAD workers.

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