Former Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) MLA from Dhuri , a former chairman of Sangrur district planning board and Shiromani Akali Dal Vice President Gobind Singh Longowal was elected as the 42nd chief of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex religious body of the Sikhs, during its annual general house meeting at Amritsar . Newly elected president Gobind Singh Longowal got 154 of 169 votes whereas rival candidate Amrik Singh Shahpur from Dera Baba Nanak got only 15 votes.
Longowal, a close aide of former SAD president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, was earlier elected MLA from Dhanaula in 1985, 1997 and 2002. He also remained state minister in the Punjab Government from 1997 to 2002, in the Parkash Singh Badal’s government.
Gobind Singh Longowal had defeated Congress backed Sanjha Morcha joint candidate Simar Partap Singh, grandson of former governor and chief minister of Punjab Surjit Singh Barnala, in the 2015 Dhuri bypoll, after Congress MLA Arvind Khanna resigned as Dhuri MLA.
The SGPC general house has 191 members. While 170 are elected by Sikh voters belonging to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pardesh and Chandigarh. While incumbent six Sikh highest priests are members of the house, 15 are nominated. High priests, however, have no right to vote.
During the election, former SGPC president and this time contender Bibi Jagir Kaur had proposed Longowal’s name for the post of President SGPC. Raghujit Singh Virk was elected senior vice president, Harpal Singh Jalla as junior vice president while Gurbachan Singh Karmowala was chosen the general secretary of the SGPC. The three were elected unanimously as were the eleven executive members of the SGPC.
Early in the day SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh started proceedings of the election. After that Jagir Kaur proposed Gobind Singh Longowal’s name for house’s approval. Two other members, Gurbachan Singh Karmuwal and Manjit Singh also endorsed his name. Then SGPC members with SAD-affiliation gave their approval by raising their hands.SAD affiliated members are in majority.
After t this some member led by senior member Sukhdev Singh Bhaur raised objection to unanimous declaration of the candidate’s name, instead of going for an election. They insist for electoral process and demanded voting. They fielded Amrik Singh Shahpur, a SAD rebel, as their candidate.
After this outgoing President Kirpal Singh Badungar tried to persuade the rebels and make point that that they don’t have a majority and the voting would just be wastage of time.But due to adamant attitude of rebels a voting was held through secret ballots. Except Mohali SGPC member Hardeep Singh, who walked out protesting, all members cast their votes.
After a gap of around 15 years ,the voting for the post of SGPC President was held today. Earlier it was in 2002, when Capt. Amrinder Singh led Congress government was formed and that time SGPC president jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal, parted away.
The executive committee members are: Hardev Singh Rogla, Ravinder Singh Chak Mukerian, Gurmeet Singh Booh, Gurmeet Singh Triloke Wale, Navtej Singh Kauni ,Amrik Singh Shahpur,Sajjan Singh Bajjuman, Bhagwant Singh Sialka, Lakhbir Singh Arayan Wala, Bibi Gurpreet Kaur and Gurtej Singh Dhadde.