Gurdwara Act: Cong pushes for change, BJP contests move

Gurdwara Act is crucial to hold the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee elections, which the Supreme Court wants before December 31

The Delhi government is pushing hard to pass the much-debated and amended Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act in the Assembly winter session, beginning Tuesday.

The legislation is important because it will set the norms for elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC). The Supreme Court had ordered elections to the DSGMC before December 31.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had criticised the amendments to the Act, alleging that the Congress government in Delhi was "meddling" with religious affairs of the Sikhs and trying to foist its loyalists into the gurdwara committee.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit refuted the allegations. "We have proposed changes to the Act to increase transparency and would like to hold elections to the DSGMC under the amended Act. The elections will be held before the deadline of December 31, but we might ask the Supreme Court to give us more time if required," she said.

She said the amendments would be tabled in the winter session of the Assembly.

Senior Delhi government officials said Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna last week gave his consent to the amendments and sent the returned the file to the government. "We will now send it to the Union Home Ministry, which has to clear the amendments before they can be tabled in the Assembly," an official said.

The amendments seek to directly elect the DSGMC president. At present, members of the executive elect the committee chief.

This has been a major niggling point. Leader of the Opposition

V K Malhotra said his party (the BJP) would oppose any changes to the Act.

"The Delhi government is afraid of losing power in the DSGMC and has sought to delay elections for at least a year on flimsy grounds. The amendments are just another delaying tactic. We will call their bluff," Malhotra said.

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