The Sikh community in the National Capital will on Sunday vote to elect members of the Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee responsible for taking care of nine historical Sikh places of worship, 18 schools and six colleges among other institutions. The campaign for DSGMC polls ended at 5 pm on Friday.
What is DSGMC?
The DSGMC’s core responsibility is of managing the nine historical Gurdwaras in Delhi including Sri Rakab Ganj Sahib, Bangla Sahib and Sis Ganj Sahib. The committee also takes care of six colleges including SGTB Khalsa College, SGND Khalsa College and Mata Sundri College in Delhi University. Apart from that, several schools, libraries, and other social institutions associated with it are managed by DSGMC.
Also, the body represents over 8 lakh Sikhs who reside in Delhi. The committee headquarters is at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in New Delhi. The DSGMC, even though a counterpart of the Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), which manages the places of worship and other institutions in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, operates in an independent manner.
How are the elections held?
The committee has an annual budget of Rs 100 crore and elections are held to appoint members on 46 seats out of total 51. Out of the rest, one member is nominated by SGPC, two are co-opted and two represent Singh Sabhas of Delhi. Also, four other members representing Sikh takhats (seat of authority), Sri Akal Takht Sahib in Amritsar, Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Sri Anandpur Sahib and Sri Patna Sahib, are also nominated to the committee.
The elections are directly managed by Directorate of Gurdwara Elections which comes under the Government of NCT of Delhi. Apart from ensuring a smooth election process, the department is also responsible for carrying out amendments in Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act. The DSGMC works according to the rules and regulations laid out in Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1971.
Once elected, the committee members retain their position for a period of four years after which next elections are held. This year, out of over eight lakh Sikhs, 3.75 lakh are eligible to vote including over 1.9 lakh men and over 1.8 lakh women. Only Sikhs who have unshorn hair and follow the religious code of conduct including five tenets are eligible to vote in the elections.
The DSGMC polls 2017
So far, the committee elections have mostly been a two party affair with Shromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Akali Dal (Delhi) being the major competitors. However, this year a new party named Panthic Sewa Dal (PSD) supported by Aam Aadmi Party has also entered the fray. The party was formed 18 months ago by AAP MLA Avtar Singh from Kalkaji South.
On the other hand, SAD (Badal) and Akali Dal (Delhi) which is led by Paramjeet Singh Sarna are contesting all 46 seats. Apart from these three, two other players namely Akal Sahai Welfare Society and Sikh Sadbhawana Dal have also fielded candidates. According to reports, a total of 335 candidates including 184 independents are contesting the polls this year. As many as 560 polling stations have been set up across Delhi to ensure an orderly election process.
SAD (Badal) which is supported by Akali Dal in Punjab and BJP finds itself in a tough spot after Dera Sacha Sauda Chief’s support to the SAD in Punjab Assembly polls. On the other hand, the party has been running a campaign against Paramjit Singh Sarna accusing him of being involved in corruption.
Paramjit Singh Sarna was the President of DSGMC for over 10 years before he was ousted by Manjit Singh GK of SAD (Badal) in 2013 polls. The eligibility norms to become an elected member of the committee require a person to be minimum 25 years of age, an ‘amritdhari’ Sikh, who does not trim his hair, does not take alcoholic drinks and is able to read and write in Gurumukhi script.