THE SAD-dominated Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) House elected Gobind Singh Longowal as its president for the third consecutive time at the Teja Singh Samaundri Hall in Amritsar Wednesday.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal was given all the rights to elect the next SGPC president Tuesday evening. He had surprised many by selecting first-time member Longowal as president back in 2017 despite the presence of many senior SGPC members from his party in the House.
Longowal’s name was proposed by former SGPC president Jagir Kaur and accepted in the absence of opposition members who had either boycotted the proceedings or staged a walkout.
The SGPC House has a 170 elected members and 154 were present on Wednesday. Longowal was elected unanimously in the absence of opposition members.
Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and other opposition SGPC members walked out as their demand for a debate on incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib were not met.
Though Longowal was reappointed, all 15 members of the executive committee were changed.
Rajinder Singh Mehta was elected senior vice-president, while the post of junior vice president went to Gurbaksh Singh Nva Sher. Harjinder Singh Dhami was elected general secretary of the House.
Other members of the executive committee were Bhupinder Singh, Jagsir Singh, Gurpal Singh Gora, Sher Singh Mandwala, Paramjit Kaur Lehra, Jasmer Singh Lachru, Amarjit Singh Bhalaipur, Surjit Singh Kang Rajasthan, Indermohan Singh Lakhmirwala and Mangwinder Singh.
Former SGPC president late Gurbachan Singh Tohra’s daughter Kuldeep Kaur was also given a place in the executive committee. An SGPC member from Sangrur, Kuldeep had quit SAD making serious allegations against Sukhbir, to contest on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections. She had returned to SAD earlier this year.
After his re-election, Longowal said this his main priority will be religious preaching.
“It is (due to) Guru’s blessings that I have gotten the opportunity to serve the community. I thank former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal for showing confidence in me. I will work for unity in the community. We will face all challenges and focus on religious preachings,” he added.
Longowal further said, “SGPC’s 100th anniversary is round the corner and it will be my agenda to celebrate the anniversary in a great manner. SGPC has a glorious history and every child will be told about this story.”
Meanwhile, opposition SGPC member and MLA Balwinder Singh Bains walked out of Teja Singh Samundri Hall with others raising slogans against Longowal.
“We asked Longowal what he has done for justice in cases of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib. What has he done about the claims of the Indian government that they had returned the material taken away from Sikh Reference Library during the 1984 Operation Blue Star? He had no answer. Sukhbir Singh Badal has overpowered SGPC House. Longowal was selected by Sukhbir not by the SGPC House,” said Bains.