As campaigning for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections ended on Friday, 265 candidates were confirmed for Delhis 46 wards. The polls may prove to be a litmus test for the Badals, who along with several heavyweights have camped in Delhi for the last 10 days in a bid to take control of the DSGMC after 12 years, and the Sheila Dikshit government, which is preparing for Assembly elections later this year.
The elections will witness a primarily direct tussle between the Congress-backed Sarna faction, the SAD (Delhi) and the Badal-backed SAD (Badal) under Manjit Singh. Sources said Congress MLA Tejinder Singh Marwah, who resigned as Parliamentary secretary last year, will fight elections in at least 17 wards under the banner of the Kendriya Guru Singh Sabha (KGSS).
While Sarna and Manjit Singh have floated candidates in all 46 wards, the KGSS will contest elections in 17 wards and the Shiromani Akali Dal (UK) will contest in nine wards. Sources stated the remaining candidates are independents.
Polls to the high-profile DSGMC, the most powerful Sikh body after Punjabs Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, were announced after Supreme Court issued directions last year. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had sought to amend the Delhi Sikh Act and introduce direct elections of the DSGMC President, but to no avail.
G P Singh, director of Gurdwara Elections on Friday said campaigning ended at 5 pm and political functionaries or party workers were not allowed to leave their wards. Police have been authorised to take any measures necessary to ensure that the instructions are carried out. We will not allow anything to undermine free and fair polls, Singh said.
Of the 1.2 million members of the Sikh community in Delhi, at least 8 lakh registered voters are expected to exercise their franchise on Sunday to choose a committee which will preside over several religious, educational and medical institutions in the national capital.