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Longowal tipped to retain post of SGPC president 

Amritsar, November 12

The 120 SGPC members owing allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have authorised party president Sukhbir Singh Badal to take a call on the new president and other key office-bearers of the apex Sikh body for a one-year term in accordance with the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.

The new body of the SGPC will be elected on Tuesday.

Speculation is rife that incumbent Gobind Singh Longowal might be asked to continue as he has stuck to the SAD’s Panthic agenda over the past year, leading the party’s agitation against the Congress government over alleged distortion of Sikh history in textbooks. 

Others in the fray are ex-minister Tota Singh and Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, a close relative of expelled MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura. Pakhoke, who shifted loyalties to the Badals recently, might be given a plum post in the SGPC in case he misses out on the presidentship.

Sukhbir held a closed-door meeting with the SGPC members on Monday. Prominent among those present were former ministers Daljit Singh Cheema, Gulzar Singh Ranike, Sikander Singh Maluka and Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder, besides Longowal and former SGPC heads Avtar Singh Makkar, Kirpal Singh Badungar and Bibi Jagir Kaur.

The SAD might face resistance from the supporters of Taksali veterans who were expelled from the party recently or the Panthic front led by Sukhdev Singh Bhaur. In that case, the deadlock will be resolved through voting.

There are 191 members in the SGPC House, including 15 co-opted members, five Takht heads and the Golden Temple head priest. Nine members have died, while two had resigned.

Meanwhile, commenting on the expulsion of Taksali veterans, Sukhbir said, “I still have high regard for them. They have always blessed me during my political career. But it was the core committee’s decision to expel them as they had violated party discipline. No individual is bigger than the party, not even me.”

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