The SGPC and Akal Takht Thursday hit out at the BJP in the ongoing controversy regarding appointment of Takht Hazur Sahib Nanded Board president. While the SGPC has shot a letter to PM Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnvis lodging their protest in the matter, Akal Takht’s acting Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh accused the BJP of “political interference in religious matters”.
While talking to The Indian Express, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said,”Maharashtra government is trying to amend the Takht Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board Nanded Act, 1956 and they want to nominate their president. They have a hidden motive to appoint an RSS-minded Sikh as president of the board and hence RSS has an agenda to take control of gurdwara which will not be acceptable at any cost.”
Reacting to the statements by the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, an RSS affiliate, Longowal said, “The RSS should not interfere in our religious matters, we know how to manage our gurdwaras and it is the right of the 17 members of the board to elect president, rather than the government nominating it.”
“We respect every religion but will not tolerate interference of others in our own religion. Such tactics of RSS are aimed at dividing and ensuing internal fight between Sikh brothers and every Sikh must be aware of such tactics,” he added.
Giani Harpreet Singh, acting Akal Takht Jathedar, called it “a direct political interference of BJP-ruled state government of Maharashtra”. “The 17 members of the board have the right to choose their president and there should be no amendment in this. Political parties should not interfere in religious matters. This is simply unacceptable,” he said.
While parallel Jathedars as appointed by Sarbat Khalsa 2015 are known to take a stand opposing the views and actions of the SGPC, on this issue both sides spoke in sync. Baljit Singh Daduwal, parallel Jathedar of Takht Damdama Saheb, said: “Political parties should not try to meddle in religious affairs. The appointment of president should go as per the previous rule and this matter should be pursued seriously with Maharashtra government.”
Longowal has also asked SAD leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal to find a solution of this matter as she is a minister in the Modi government. On Wednesday, SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa had said that Akali Dal would not shy away from breaking the alliance on the issue of management of gurdwaras.
R S Gill, spokesperson Punjab BJP, said, “We cannot say anything over this matter as alliance talks are between SAD president and BJP president. So Sirsa must consult his party president over this matter or the president of party (Sukhbir Singh Badal) should clarify his stand on this issue.”
(With inputs from ENS, Amritsar)