550th Parkash Purb celebrations: State govt puts ball in Takht jathedar’s court on joint event
Ministers Randhawa and Channi meet Giani Harpreet Singh, offer govt’s ‘pandal’ for holding main events in Sultanpur Lodhi
The Punjab government on Tuesday put the onus of holding the joint celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in Sultanpur Lodhi on the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, after failing to break the stalemate over the issue with the Shirmonai Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC).
The government also offered the ‘pandal’ it has set up at the historic town, where Guru Nanak spent 14 years, to the Takht for organising the main function which dignitaries, including the President and the Prime Minister, will be attending.
Two state cabinet ministers — Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa (jails and cooperation) and Charanjit Singh Channi (technical educational & industrial training) who are representing the government in the coordination committee formed by the Akal Takht for the joint event — on Tuesday morning met acting Akal Takht jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh and handed him over a letter of Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh in a sealed envelope.
The government and the apex gurdwara body have been accusing each other of sabotaging the efforts to hold a joint function. The two have held three rounds of talks to reach a consensus, but to no avail. While the government has already set up a ‘pandal’ for the function, the SGPC is learnt to have given the contract worth crores of rupees to a private firm for a separate ‘pandal’.
“We met the jathedar on the CM’s direction. He has also spoken to the jathedar over phone and the latter was requested to take charge for celebrating the Parkash Purab jointly at the stage set up by the state government,” said Randhawa after meeting Giani Harpreet Singh.
“We also requested the jathedar that the work on another pandal being set up by SGPC at ₹10-15 crore should be stopped. The gurdwara body should spend the money for the promotion of Sikh religion,” the minister added.
Whether the SGPC has refused to use the government’s pandal, Channi said, “Showing humility, the CM has authorised the jathedar on behalf of Punjab government to take a decision on holding the joint function. We will follow the Akal Takht’s instructions and the SGPC can do whatever it wants.”
Giani Harpreet Singh said, “The ministers representing the state government met me and we held an open discussion for celebrating the Guru’s birth anniversary by all parties jointly. The Punjab CM talked to me over phone in this regard. The ministers said the government will abide by the Takht’s decision. I am thankful to the CM for showing faith on the Akal Takht Sahib and offering the tent city.”
“A meeting of five ‘Singh Sahibans’ (clergymen) will be held on October 21. During the meeting, all possible efforts will be made to celebrate the Parkash Purb jointly. We will try to celebrate the event by setting up a single stage where the leaders of all parties will be present. The Panth also wanted this,” the jathedar added.
Replying to a question, he said, “We have hopeful that the SGPC will be agree for holding the joint event.”
Talking to HT over phone, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said, “We will follow the instructions of the Akal Takht in this regard.”
The ministers also handed over to the jathedar the state government’s proposal to that no political speeches will be allowed at the main function. Only the jathedars of five takhts, the head granthi of Darbar Sahib, the Prime Minister or any senior representative of the central government, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Punjab CM and the SGPC president will be present on the stage, the proposal says.