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Makkar re-elected SGPC chief, SAD rival expelled from party

Amritsar, Nov.25 (ANI): Avtar Singh Makkar was on Saturday re-elected as president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) after defeating his nearest Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rival, Gurvinder Singh Shampura, by 104 votes.

Makkar secured 139 out of the 175 votes cast, while Shampura got only 35 votes. The SGPC has 185 votes in all. Makkar's name was proposed by former SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur and seconded by Mohinder Singh Romana. Raghujit Singh Virk, a relative of the SAD chief, Prakash Singh Badal, and a resident of Karnal, was appointed senior vice-president and Kawel Singh Badal was appointed as the junior vice president. Sukhdev Singh Bhoor was appointed as the General Secretary of the SGPC.

Shampura's poor show in the SGPC polls led to his expulsion from the SAD.

After the elections, the general house of the SGPC unanimously passed a resolution urging the Central Government to make suitable amendments in the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925 so that they could co-opt ten Sikh representative from various countries. Presently, the SGPC co opts fifteen members from different Indian states.

Addressing reporters at the Teja Singh Samundri Hall after his win, Makkar said that the inclusion of Sikh representatives from different parts of the world would help solve major Sikh community-related issues faced by Sikhs living abroad. He also confirmed that the SGPC has written to the Central Government to ensure that Sikhs living in Afghanistan get sufficient security.On the SGPC's stand vis-a-vis the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), Makkar said relations between the two Sikh representative bodies are cordial, and added that SGPC would soon send a delegation to Pakistan for the construction of a Sarai (Inn) at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Makkar also expressed his objections over moves to register a separate Sikh body in Haryana, describing it as a state government ploy to divide Sikhs there. He said the SGPC is a representative body of the entire Sikh community, and the move to form a separate committee was in violation of the pact signed between Jawaharlal Nehru and Master Tara Singh in 1959.

Meanwhile, the Sikh diaspora has reacted to Makkar's re-election as an attempt to woo the urban voter in Punjab ahead of the forthcoming Assembly elections. The election is likely be held in the state in the first week of March.

Makkar's re-appointment as SGPC chief has been criticised. merican Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee's (AGPC) coordinator DR. Pritpal Singh alleged that Makkar had failed to address serious issues during his first tenure as SGPC chief. He said that the SGPC has failed to approach the governments of various countries for stopping hate crimes against Sikhs.

He also said that the confrontation with the Akalis has disappointed the Sikh Diaspora. Showing their concern over the Afghanistan issue, he said that AGPC would soon give a representation to the U.S.State Department for the protection of Sikhs in Afghanistan.

Talking to ANI over phone, Karn Singh, the President of the Sikh Foundation in Switzerland, also criticised Makkar's re-appointment as SGPC chief. He said the SGPC had failed to address the turban removal issue in France.

"The election of Avtar Singh Makkar is insignificant, and a confirmation of the Badal Dal Plan to continue its loot of golak money through a non-descript leader like Makkar," said. Kanwarpal Singh a spokesperson of the Dal Khalsa.

The SGPC has failed to achieve the basic purpose of religious propagation, which has resulted in apostasy in large numbers, he added. (ANI)

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