A month after Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s son Ishar Singh and former Akal Takht Jathedar Jasvir Singh Rode asked the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) executive committee to expel him, SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh on Friday resigned from the post citing personal reasons. His resignation was accepted in SGPC executive meeting held earlier this week.
Harcharan Singh, a former banker and confidant of Shiromani Akali Dal Badal president and former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, had remained an eyesore for many inside and outside SGPC ever since his first day in office in July 2015, when the special post of chief secretary was created on the recommendations of Sukhbir Badal.
Talking to The Indian Express, Harcharan Singh said, “Resignation from the post is purely due to personal reasons.”
Only last month, Ishar Singh and Jasvir Singh Rode had accused Harcharan Singh of victimising SGPC employees close to Bhindranwale’s family and Damdami Taksal. Both had appeared at the SGPC executive meeting held at Anandpur Sahib on June 24 and demanded that Harcharan Singh be expelled, while accusing him of implicating SGPC employees close to them in false corruption cases.
During Harcharan Singh’s initial days in office too, his appointment was strongly opposed by former Hazuri Ragi Baldev Singh Vadala, founder of Sikh Sadbhavna Dal. Baldev Singh had strongly objected to the appointment of chief secretary on a salary of Rs 3 lakh per month and also levelled personal allegations on Harcharan Singh.
It was also alleged that one of the purposes of creating the post of chief secretary was to rein in the then SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar. It was not possible for Sukhbir Badal to remove Makkar as the SGPC House elected in 2011 was in suspension due to a case over shejdhari issue pending in the Supreme Court.
Apart from Makkar, Harcharan Singh’s appointment was also seen as a new check on the SGPC bureaucracy and challenge to authorities of all SGPC secretaries.
Harcharan Singh enjoyed his position with full powers till SGPC house elected in 2011 resumed by Supreme Court order in November 2016.
Later, experienced hand Kirpal Singh Badungar became the new president and clipped the powers of chief secretary. Harcharan Singh’s salary was also recently reduced to Rs 1 lakh per month.
There was fresh tension between Badungar and Harcharan Singh over some statements published on the behalf of the latter over the issue of GST. Badungar had even made Harcharan Singh retract the statement in which the latter had said the SGPC had applied to get GST registration number.