Badal wants conspiracy behind SGPC poll muddle probed

September 2nd, 2011 - 9:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Sep 2 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Friday sought unearthing of the “conspiracy” to mislead the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the voting rights of Sehajdhari Sikhs in the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SPGC) elections of Sep 18.

“The centre’s stand before the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the SGPC poll issue yesterday must be probed and those behind it punished as they sought to play havoc with national interests and the hard-earned atmosphere of peace and communal harmony in the state,” Badal said in a statement here.

He sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the matter.

“The matter must be taken most seriously and must not be allowed to rest till the conspiracy behind it is exposed and the guilty are punished,” Badal said.

“As Chief Minster and as a responsible representative of the people, I deemed it my duty to caution the centre against games still being played by vested interests within the Congress in Punjab.”

The ruling Akali Dal Friday sought a probe into why a senior lawyer misled the high court.

The Akali Dal demand came just after Home Minister P. Chidambaram told parliament that no changes had been made in the norms of the SGPC election and that the exercise would be held according to schedule.

The clarification came a day after central government counsel Harbhagwan Singh, advocate general during the Congress government in Punjab, told the high court that a 2003 notification preventing Sehajdhari or non-baptised Sikhs from voting in the SPGC elections had been withdrawn.

“Neither the Ministry of Law nor the Ministry of Home Affairs had given a vakalatnama to Harbhagwan Singh,” Chidambaram said in his statement.

“No one from the government had briefed him. In particular, he had no authority to make the statement that the notification dated 8.10.2003 would be withdrawn. The government also wishes to make it clear that there is no proposal to rescind or withdraw the notification dated 8.10.2003,” the home minister said.

The court was hearing pleas seeking voting rights for Sehajdhari Sikhs.

“We would like to know who is behind all this; the government should probe this,” Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the deputy chief minister, told reporters here.

The issue was taken up in the Rajya Sabha by the Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Reading a statement on behalf of Chidambaram, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the government had not withdrawn the notification.

“In the last 24 hours, huge tension has been created,” BJP leader Arun Jaitley said. “The impression is that the government is interfering in a religious institution.”

After Jaitley’s statement, Chidambaram got up to say that he would ask senior counsel why he made the statement.

“At this stage, I submit, we need not attribute any motive to anyone. Let us find out what has happened,” Chidambaram said.

On Thursday, the SGPC, the Akali Dal and other Sikh bodies alleged a “conspiracy” against the community and slammed the government’s “attempt to interfere” in their affairs.

The SGPC, an elected religious body of Sikhs for control and management of gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, has an annual budget of Rs. 580 crore.

The notification barring non-baptised Sikhs from voting was issued in 2003 during the National Democratic Alliance regime at the centre following a resolution adopted by the SGPC on March 30, 2002.

Around 60 lakh Sikh voters have registered for the SGPC polls, scheduled for Sep 18.

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