CM hits back at Dikshit, questions tweaking gurdwara election norms

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

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

SAD had every right to participate in the affairs of the DSGMC "because we had fought valiantly in the Gurdwara Reforms movement," he said, adding that the party's leaders had made "sacrifices" after which the DSGMC could be constituted.

The Delhi Chief Minister should not "forget" that SAD was contesting the DSGMC elections ever since its inception due to which they were fully entitled to raise voice against "any interference by the government in the religious affairs of the Sikhs," he said.

The proposed amendment by the Congress government at Delhi was a direct onslaught on the rights of Sikhs, Badal alleged while adding that he has raised the matter with the Prime Minister and urged him to desist the government from taking this "disastrous step."

Badal also alleged that DSGMC chief Paramjeet Singh Sarna was the 'B' team of the Congress.

"Ulterior motive of the Delhi government behind the proposed amendment is to further delay the general elections of DSGMC, which were scheduled to take place in January last year," he accused.

Meanwhile, in a statement, SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema reminded Dikshit that it in 1970 then SAD president Sant Fateh Singh had led the `morcha' in Delhi demanding a democratic body on the pattern of SGPC for the management of Sikh shrines of Delhi. "Parkash Singh Badal and 16,000 other SAD leaders and workers went to jail in this morcha," Cheema said, adding that the present DSGMC came into being in 1971 as a result of the sacrifices made by SAD workers.

In a related development, SAD president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister too attacked the Delhi CM saying, "Will someone tell her that Sikh affairs are very much a business of the Sikhs and of the Sikhs alone and that she or her government should stay away from the internal religious matters of the community. By openly talking about an issue which concerns our shrines, she has only confirmed Punjab CM's observation that the Congress is indeed interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikhs."

He also questioned her propriety in replying to the letter written by Punjab CM to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "May I ask if she considers herself above the Prime Minister to whom Punjab CM's communication was addressed? The PM is yet to respond to the concerns raised in the letter but Dikshit, in her wisdom, seems to believe she can pre-empt the PM also," he said in a statement.

He also asked if the Delhi government "interference" in the affairs of the DSGMC "is a part of the Congress High Command's policy and strategy". "Haven't we suffered enough because of such ill-advised course followed by the Congress governments in the past," he asked.

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