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SAD survives fear, but rifts emerge as Dhami elected SGPC chief

Although the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) survived a specter with the re-election of its member Harjinder Singh Dhami as chairman of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the struggle of sacked leader Bibi Jagir Kaur and the distribution of votes may ring alarm bells for the party.

While Dhami got 104 votes, Bibi Jagir Kaur got 42 votes. Out of 157 eligible members, 146 had turned up to participate in the electoral process of the Sikhs’ mini-parliament SGPC, at Teja Singh Samundri Hall in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar.

Baldev Singh Kaimpuri was unanimously elected senior vice president as no one stood up to him.

Rebel candidate Jagir Kaur may have gotten just 42 votes, but this was an unprecedented number as it marked the first time a candidate for the post has competed against the SAD leadership’s mandate. In the past, candidates against the Badals have received no more than 20 votes.

The number of votes for Kaur does not bode well for Sukhbir Badal’s leadership, as SAD has held sway over the affairs of the SGPC so far. Prior to the polls, the party faced rebellion not only from Jagir Kaur but also from other leaders. Some members had openly expressed support for the former chairman of the SGPC.

However, SAD president Sukhbir Badal tried to downplay the disagreement. He called Dhami’s victory a lesson for the rebels and those who colluded in the internal affairs of the Sikh community. “I thank Akal Purakh, Khalsa Panth and SGPC members for their resounding rejection of anti-Sikh conspirators and their accomplices by putting their trust in Shiromani Akali Dal,” he tweeted.

The SGPC election was a high-decibel event this time around as Bibi announced her candidacy for the position on her own. The party chairman and other leaders called it undisciplined and asked her to withdraw in favor of the party’s official candidate. She refused and was later fired from the party. Sukhbir and other leaders also claimed that Sikh leaders with the Bharatiya Janata party tried to break the party and Sikh unity by helping Jagir Kaur.

The SAD leadership has faced rebellion from some of its leaders following the debacle in the state assembly polls earlier this year. Leaders such as the party’s legislative wing Manpreet Singh Ayali and senior vice president Jagmeet Singh Brar have demanded a change of leadership.

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