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Will Bibi Jagir Kaur make a comeback in SGPC polls, taking on Sukhbir Badal’s candidates ?

Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Bibi Jagir Kaur

Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Bibi Jagir Kaur has announced that she will contest the forthcoming elections to the SGPC, the statutory body of Sikhs, against candidates put up by the Badal family.

She has announced the formation of the Shiromani Akali Panth to contest the elections. Kaur says her aim is “to liberate Panthik institutions from the monopoly of the Badal family.”

Kaur who has sharp differences with the Sukhbir Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said that the core of the institution was being compromised owing to alleged excessive interference from SAD.

“SAD was founded to help SGPC, but in recent years, the latter had been just made a wing of the Akali Dal. In the last 25 years, there has been serious deterioration in the working of SGPC and too much interference by political leadership of Akali Dal leaders in the working of SGPC has embarrassed the community,” says Kaur.

Kaur, a senior leader, was expelled from Akali Dal in November last year after she decided to contest the election for the SGPC president, a post she had held for three terms earlier.

She alleged rampant “Lifafa (envelope) culture” prevailed in the SGPC, with the Badal family, sending the name of their choice for the top post of the apex Gurudwara body’s chief. “In 1920s, the SGPC freed the Gurudwaras from the control of the Mahants. Now the time has come to make the SGPC free from the unnecessary political interference,” she added.

She was defeated in elections in November 2022 by current SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami and now she has launched her own outfit for the elections.

The SGPC, also called the mini parliament of Sikhs, has an annual budget touching ₹1,000 crore and works for the maintenance of 80 historical gurdwaras in the region, besides two medical colleges, three hospitals, and a large number of schools and colleges.

In her 25-year political career, Kaur has been a Cabinet minister and the first woman SGPC president who made all attempts to establish herself as Sikh woman rights activist. There is an unwritten convention that women don’t perform ‘Kirtan’ at the Golden Temple. While the community had been debating the issue for long, Kaur favoured breaking this convention.

Kaur’s political career had got a setback following her daughter’s death case.  Kaur was accused of killing her daughter for honour in 2000 becuase of her relationship with a man of her choice. The Punjab and Haryana High Court, however, acquitted her of all charges in her daughter’s death case in December 2018.