The recently appointed Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Harpreet Singh, has dismissed objections raised by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh over SGPC participating in political activities. It is rare for Jathedars of five Sikh Takhts to express their differences on any issue in public.
Talking to The Indian Express, Giani Harpreet Singh said that politics and religion run parallel in Sikhism and there was nothing wrong about SGPC participating in political activities. Interestingly, Giani Harpreet Singh was appointed Takht Damdama Sahib Jathedar after his predecessor, Giani Gurmukh Singh, had openly expressed his differences with Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on the Dera Sacha Sauda issue. The latest controversy was triggered over SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar’s decision to participate in dharnas staged by SAD and BJP against newly formed Congress government on Monday.
Reacting to the development on Tuesday, Akal Takht Jathedar Gaini Gurbachan Singh had advised the SGPC to staying away from political activities. Countering him on Wednesday, Giani Harpreet Singh said, “I don’t know why he made such statement. It may be a slip of tongue. I do not know under what circumstances he made the statement. But it is absolutely fine for SGPC to indulge in political activities. Akal Takht is itself founded on the ideology of Miri and Piri, in which religion and politics run parallel. There should be no surprise if SGPC has participated in a political activity.”
Harpreet Singh (44) is highly educated among the five Jathedars and has been pursuing his doctorate from Punjabi University, Patiala in the field of religion. Like Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar Harpreet Singh also belongs to Muktsar, home district of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Both are considered close to the Badal family. “It is the teaching of the Guru to stand by the issues which really concern the public. They may be political issues,” said Jathedar Harpreet Singh.
On the allegations that Akal Takht Jathedar and SGPC always advocate the political line of SAD, Harpreet Singh said, “It is also true that Shiromani Akali Dal is winning SGPC elections for a long time. But a Sikh can also raise political issues remaining within any party. There are many Sikhs in Congress party too.” According to sources, the statement of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has not gone well with the SGPC leadership.
There has been no group within SAD and SGPC, which supports Giani Gurbachan Singh. In fact, there has been demand to remove him as Akal Takht Jathedar since 2015. When contacted, Giani Gurbachan Singh said, “I have not read any such statement of Harpreet Singh. I will react to it only after I hear it from him.”