Lesser known facts about “Lifafa” culture in SGPC
Kanwar Inder Singh/ royalpatiala.in
Today, after almost two decades the “Lifafa” culture to elect the president of shiromani gurudwara prabhandhak committee (SGPC) comes to an end. This year president Harjinder Singh Dhami got re-elected through voting. In today’s poll Harjinder Singh polled 104 votes whereas his rival Bibi Jagir Kaur got 42 votes.
The foundation of infamous “Lifafa” culture was laid by former president of shiromani akali dal and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal after losing the 2002 elections.
In March 2002 Capt Amarinder Singh formed the congress government in Punjab. After the assembly elections it was alleged that Amarinder Singh and Tohra, who once occupied opposite ends of the political spectrum, join hands to oust Badal from the control of the SGPC which manages the affairs of the cash-rich and historical gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. It was alleged at that time, that Capt Amarinder Singh start harassing the SGPC members and was interested in controlling the mini parliament of Sikhs and strong bastion of akalis-SGPC with the help of Gurcharan Singh Tohra.
Badal made a smart and timely move and before the schedule elections in November 2002, Badal took the SGPC members to his Balasar resort (in Sirsa, Haryana) and extended best hospitality, par excellence to five star hotels, at various farmhouses in Balasar.
Whereas it was alleged that raids were being conducted at SGPC members residential premises time and again and their parents, kins were asked by the policemen to bring back the SGPC members to Punjab.
Badal brought the SGPC members directly from Haryana to Amritsar on the date of elections. He himself threatened to enter Amritsar with 30,000 followers if the Government tried to intimidate his loyalists during voting.
On the day of elections, there were fears of violence and Kirpal Singh Badungar was re-elected as SGPC chief as he defeated Tohra nominee Sant Bir Singh Madhoke by 23 votes. The results had once again established Badal’s supremacy in Akali and Sikh affairs.
After the defeat in SGPC elections, in 2003 Tohra again joins hand with Badal camp and had merged his Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal in Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal). Badungar remained SGPC president from Nov 2002 to July 2003.
After the merger, Tohra wants to take back the reins of SGPC as its president. Badal paved the way and Badungar was made the scapegoat in this merger. Badungar was asked to resign so that Tohra can be made president of SGPC. Gurcharan Singh Tohra was made the SGPC president in the midterm on July 27,2003. Tohra remained SGPC for next nine months, till March 2003. Tohra expired on April 1,2003.
After the demise of Tohra, Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke was made the SGPC president for a brief period from April 1, 2004 till September 22,2004. After that Jagir Kaur was made SGPC president on September 23,2004 through this “lifafa” culture .She remained president till November 22,2005.
Again , next year in November 2005, Avtar Singh Makkar was made SGPC president through “lifafa” culture. Makkar remained SGPC president till November 4,2016.
In November 2016 elections, Badal forwarded an envelope on the election day carrying the name of Kirpal Singh Badungar . Badungar remained SGPC president from November 16 to November 17.
In 2017 elections, on Election Day, an envelope carrying the name of Gobind Singh Longowal was opened. Longowal remained president from November 2017 to November 2020.
Badal shower his blessings on Jagir kaur in 2020 elections and she was made president for another term I.e from November 2020 to November 2021.
Last year Harjinder Singh Dhami was made president of SGPC with the permission of Badal’s.
Now, the “Lifafa” culture is going to take place in next year 2023 elections or not, only time will tell.