After a gap of 15 years, former Punjab cabinet minister Bibi Jagir Kaur (66) on Friday made a comeback as chief of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). She was elected after the voting in the SGPC House during the Sikh body’s annual meeting at Teja Singh Samundri Hall on Friday.
Jagir Kaur replaced her own party’s Gobind Singh Longowal, who was SGPC president for last three years.
After being elected president, Jagir Kaur said, “I will expect support from everybody. I will make efforts to spread the message of the Guru. Unity of community is very important and it is need of the hour. We all are one and everyone will be respected. We should forget the differences to face the new challenges. I thank former CM Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal for showing confidence in me.”
Opposition had proposed name of Mithu Singh Kahneke for the president’s and he polled 20 votes.
Surjit Singh Bhittewind was selected senior vice President. Baba Buta Singh will be junior vice president, while Bhagwant Singh Sialka will be general secretary of Sikh body.
SGPC elections are held after five years, however, the House elects a president every year in November.
SAD has a majority in the House and party SGPC members had given all rights to Sukhbir to decide on new president’s name. Total 143 members were present in House and she got 122 votes. Voting was just a formality after Sukhbir cleared her name.
She first became the SGPC president in 1999 when Sukhbir was still a youngster in Punjab politics. Before that, she was a minister in SAD government after becoming first-time Bulath MLA in 1997.
Jagir Kaur was elected MLA from Bholath in 2002 and 2007 also. She unsuccessfully contested Khadoor Sahib parliamentary elections in 2019.
It is second time that she has made comeback to the SGPC office. In her pervious term, she was seen as reformist.
Jagir Kaur had early success in politics, but her rise was was soon shadowed by death of her daughter in 2002. She was convicted by CBI court for abduction and murder of her daughter in March 2012. Later, Punjab and Haryana High court acquitted her from all charges in December 2018. Meanwhile, SAD didn’t offer her any big post though she remained president of SAD (Women’s Wing).
She was lobbying to get back SGPC president since her acquittal by the High Court.
Her second term comes it a time when elections to the SGPC House are around the corner. Further, the SGPC in its 100th year is facing a credibility crisis over Birs that went missing.
A dharna on the issues is ongoing outside the SGPC headquarters and this will be the first challenge for the new chief.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines