SGPC polls: SAD-Sant Samaj combine heads for emphatic win

Between 50 and 55 percent of polling was recorded for the SGPC elections.

Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal-Sant Samaj combine on Sunday night headed for a thumping victory in the election to the General House of the SGPC bagging 41 seats so
far and leading in 70 others by convincing margins.

The election was held to elect 163 members as the combine had already won seven seats unopposed.

Reports received from elections offices of party nominees said the SAD-Sant Samaj combine had emerged triumphant in 41 seats so far.

The combine was leading in 70 other seats by huge margins, the reports said.

However, the results would be declared officially after a final verdict by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the wake of a controversy over not allowing of Sehajdhari(non-baptised) Sikhs to exercise their franchise.

Reacting to the poll results, the SAD said the mandate was a lesson to the Congress to refrain from meddling in internal affairs of the Sikhs.

SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said the Congress would face a humiliating defeat in next year`s state assembly polls too.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the outcome was a tremendous rebuff to anti-Sikh forces led by the Congress.

There are 190 members of the General House of which 15 are co-opted. Designated five Singh Sahibs (apex clerics) are ex-officio members.

The main fight this time was between the ruling SAD and the Panthic Morcha.

Amid sporadic violence, an estimated 50 to 55 per cent of the electorate cast votes for election to the General House of the SGPC, known as mini-parliament of Sikhs.

Former Chief Minister and Punjab Congress head Amarinder Singh and his wife Preneet Kaur, a Union Minister, did not cast votes in Patiala.

Reports of clashes during the polling were received from almost all parts of the state, police said.

A person allegedly owing allegiance to ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) fired shots in the air in Kariwala village in Muktsar district, police said adding Panthic Morcha candidate
Charanjit Singh was injured in the violence.

Polling was cancelled in villages Kariwala and Buttar Shera after a scuffle broke out between two groups.

In Ajnala in Amritsar, son of a Panthic Morcha candidate was arrested for carrying pistol outside the polling booth in village Mohan Bhandaria, police said.

Among the 170 elected members, 157 are from Punjab, 11 from Haryana and one each from Himachal and Chandigarh.

The SAD had secured a majority in the last election held in July 2004 winning 134 seats.


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