PATNA -Widening its control in the religious arena, Harvinder Singh Sarna of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) was elected as president of the Patna Sahib Gurdwara Committee. He replaced Avtar Singh Makkar, former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), after the Sunday election amid allegations of horse trading.
Both Sarnas – Harvinder and his elder brother Paramjit Singh Sarna, former president the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) — were camping in Patna for the past one week. Harvinder has been elected for a 30-month term. Sarnas say it’s a comeback for them after Sukhbir Singh Badal-led SAD ousted them from the DSGMC for two consecutive terms.
Makkar, who remained the SGPC chief till November 2016, was termed a “weak” leader who couldn’t manage the affairs of the Patna gurdwara committee.
Reacting to Sarna’s appointment, Makkar said the members of the Patna sahib gurdwara were not “dependable” and they fell into the trap of the Sarnas.
“My experience as the president of the committee was not very pleasant. Before the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh last year, the committee demanded elections, to which I objected because that would have impacted the celebrations,” he said.
Sarnas, however, said the false propaganda of the SAD didn’t work this time. “SAD leaders of were successful in labelling us anti-Panthic in two previous elections of the DSGMC and the Patna Sahib committee, but they failed this time,” said Harvinder.
The historic gurdwara at Patna Sahib is the birth place of 10th Guru Gobind Singh and is one of the five takhts (temporal seats) of Sikhs. While three takhts are in Punjab, the other two are in Patna and Hazur Sahib, Nanded, in Maharashtra. The appointment of head priests of Akal Takht (Amritsar), Keshgarh Sahib (Anandpur Sahib) and Damdama Sahib (Talwandi Sabo) is under the purview of the SGPC and that of two other takhts outside the state with the local gurdwara committees.
14-member panel elects president
A 14-member committee elects the president of the Patna Sahib Gurdwara Committee. While five members of the panel are nominated by the SGPC, DSGMC, gurdwaras in Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata and Madhya Pradesh and two by the Bihar government, the remaining are elected from among the residents living near the Patna sahib gurdwara. The annual donation at the gurdwara is around ₹5 crore. The committee also run three schools.