Chandigarh, July 2 :
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Wednesday said the Haryana government’s move to create a separate body to manage gurdwaras and end the SGPC control in the state was unconstitutional.
Terming it as “an ill-conceived, arbitrary and unconstitutional move”, Badal warned the Congress government in Haryana against meddling in the religious affairs of Sikhs.
Amid the growing controversy over the issue, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had Tuesday said a committee constituted by the state government had submitted its report in favour of a separate body to manage gurdwaras in the state.
The committee, headed by Haryana’s Finance Minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha who is himself a Sikh, recommended a separate body.
The gurdwaras are at present under the control of the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
Badal Wednesday said the Hooda government’s “nefarious designs to divide the Sikhs will never materialise”.
The move by the Hooda government for a separate Sikh body for Haryana gurdwaras is clearly aimed at assembly elections to be held in October this year.
“This sinister move of the Haryana government is a desperate attempt of the Congress party, already on the verge of being ousted from power, to woo Sikh voters.
“However, this election stunt of the Congress will hardly pay dividends as Sikhs of Haryana have time and again rejected the demand for having separate body for managing the gurdwara affairs in the state,” Badal said.
He said the SGPC came into existence by an act of parliament and the Haryana government has no authority to bifurcate it.
Badal said it was unfortunate that the Haryana government was reviving this contentious issue despite the fact that former prime minister Manmohan Singh desisted from taking this step during the tenure of the UPA government.
“We have already met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh over this issue and we will take every possible step to foil the attempt of the Haryana government to divide the SGPC,” he added.
The SGPC, known as the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab have strongly opposed the Haryana government’s move.
There are 72 gurdwaras in Haryana under the SGPC and they contribute over Rs.300 million (Rs.30 crore) to the SGPC kitty.
The SGPC controls the majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines “Harmandir Sahib” (popularly known as the Golden Temple) in Amritsar.
The SGPC has warned it will drag the Haryana government to court if a separate managing committee is set up.
SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said the move was in violation of the act of parliament.
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee manages gurdwaras in the national capital.