In signs of an intensifying crisis for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the repeated desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib, Ramanjit Singh Sikki, the Congress MLA of Khandoor Sahib, resigned from the Assembly on Sunday, while three high-profile SAD members quit their party.
An office-bearer of the Sant Samaj, a pro-SAD association of Sikh preachers, also quit his post.
Calling himself a ‘true Sikh’ in the resignation letter forwarded to the Punjab Speaker, Sikki said he was pained by the desecration incident in Bath village, which falls in his constituency.
“Being a true Sikh and understanding my moral responsibility, I resign from my assembly seat. Kindly accept my resignation,” Sikki, who is in the Amarinder faction of the Congress, wrote in the brief resignation letter.
Khadoor Sahib is in Tarn Taran district, known as Punjab’s panthic district and is a stronghold of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal. Sikki is the only Congress MLA from the district that has four assembly seats.
The other three are SAD MLAs, while the Lok Sabha member from Khandoor Sahib is also from the ruling party.
The district has been observing a total shutdown over the last four days, and SAD representatives have been
unsuccessful in pacifying the protesters.
Among the three SAD leaders to resign on Sunday, the most high-profile is Sukhdev Singh Bhoura, the SGPC general secretary and one-time close aide of the Akali stalwart, the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra.
Bhoura also resigned from the party’s political affairs committee (PAC).
“ The Sikh panth is supreme of all, not the Akali Dal, Badals or SGPC,” Bhoura said. He also demanded the resignation of Akal Takht jathedar Gurbachan Singh over the reversal of the pardon orders to the Dera head saying “it was too little, too late” and that the situation in Faridkot had gone out of hand.
The two other SAD members to quit are Rajinder Singh Sidhu, the main complainant against Dera Sacha Saudha chief Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim in the 2007 blasphemy case, and Jaspreet Singh, the recently nominated chief legal adviser and chairman of the the party’s high-powered core committee in the US.
Jaspreet is considered close to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.