In what threatens to snowball into a Centre-state row, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said on Saturday that “there is no question of backing down” on the creation of a separate Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) in the state, and accused the NDA government of violating the “spirit of federalism”.
“Our decision is completely within the legal framework. It is backed by a Supreme Court ruling as also that of a five-judge High Court Bench. The state is within its powers to enact this legislation (Haryana Sikh Gurudwaras Management Bill),” Hooda told The Sunday Express.
His assertion came a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asked the state government to request Governor Jagannath Pahadia to withdraw his assent to the legislation passed by the Assembly. The Centre had questioned the Assembly’s competence to pass this Bill.
“There can be no interference by the Centre… On the demand of the Sikhs, we have given them the right to manage their gurdwaras. It is the right of the state government, the right of the state legislature,” said Hooda. The state government has asked the MHA to “withdraw” its letter.
Given that Sikhs constitute about 8 per cent of the population in poll-bound Haryana, the Congress has come out strongly in defence of Hooda.