Replace Longowal or choose a new face: Tough choice before Sukhbir Badal for SGPC president electionhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/replace-longowal-or-choose-a-new-face-tough-choice-before-sukhbir-badal-for-sgpc-president-election-5443545/

Replace Longowal or choose a new face: Tough choice before Sukhbir Badal for SGPC president election

The name decided by Badal will be proposed by the SAD(B)’s SGPC members in a house meeting scheduled for Tuesday at Teja Singh Samundari hall. SAD(B) has decisive majority in the house.

Replace Longowal or choose a new face: Tough choice before Sukhbir Badal for SGPC president election
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal after the meeting at SGPC office in Amritsar on Monday. (Express photo by Rana Simranjit Singh)

It would be a tough choice for Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) president Sukhbir Singh Badal between repeating Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal for another year or selecting a new face to counter the ongoing dissatisfaction within the party.

The SGPC members from the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) once again gave all rights to elect the chief of the apex body of Sikhs to party president Badal on Monday, after a brief meeting in Amritsar. Sukhbir was also at the SGPC headquarters.

The name decided by Badal will be proposed by the SAD(B)’s SGPC members in a house meeting scheduled for Tuesday at Teja Singh Samundari hall. SAD(B) has decisive majority in the house.

As per its constitution, the SGPC house elects its president and 15 members of executive team every year.
Longowal was a surprise pick of Badal last year and had replaced experience hand Kirpal Singh Badungar. Badal had shown his confidence in Badungar in 2016. Badungar had also remained the SGPC president back in 2001 for one-and-a-half years. However, Badal replaced him in 2017 to make way for Longowal who was elected the SGPC member for first time and become president in his second year.

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Longowal remained low profile during his year-long tenure that will end on Tuesday. He neither has any big achievement nor any controversy surrounding his name, except his past association with Dera Sacha Sauda. He had to face religious sentence from Akal Takht in 2017 for asking for votes from Dera Sira during Assembly elections as SAD(B) candidate from Lehragaga.

Badal also needs to address the dissatisfaction within the party against him with three senior leaders from Majha, sitting MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and former MLAs Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan, expelled from the party recently for speaking against him.

Under changed political scenario, many sitting SGPC members are now in race to become the next president by taking advantage of weak position of Badal family facing allegations of alliance with Dera Sirsa.

Repeating Longowal may give reasons to some leaders to join rebels, besides replacing Longowal for “no crime” will also raise serious questions over the SGPC functioning as one year is not considered enough for any president to settle down and perform.

Badungar’s predecessor Avtar Singh Makkar’s annual election to the president post from 2005 to 2010 remained a formality. He was lucky to get five more years in office from 2011 to 2016 as Supreme Court had suspended the SGPC house, elected in 2011, and Makkar remained SGPC president for five years by default. Badungar was elected president in 2016 after Supreme Court resumed the house elected in 2011.

Sukhbir had met all the SAD(B)’s SGPC members in person in the last one week.