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Delhi

Small in number, but Sikhs are a force to reckon with in Delhi polls

January 20, 2020 05:42 AM

COURTESY HT JAN 20
Voting on feb 8 Community has sizeable votes in Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar, Kalkaji, Moti Nagar

DSGMC president and Rajouri Garden MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa campaigning with his supporters in his constituency. HT photo
Gurpreet Singh Nibber

gupreet.nibber@hindustantimes.com

CHANDIGARH : Even as they constitute barely 5% of the total population in the national capital, Sikhs remain a deciding factor in the assembly elections in Delhi that goes to the polls on February 8.

All political parties want the community, which has nearly 8 lakh voters in the city-state, to be by their side. Adding to their clout is the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) which manages nine historic gurdwaras besides running hospitals, schools and colleges, and 800-odd Singh Sabhas that manage mohalla gurdwaras in the national capital.

Their presence in the political arena is evident from the fact that all parties have made Sikhs as their candidates. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced four Sikhs as it nominees besides tentatively giving four seats to its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The Congress is fielding six Sikhs candidates while two members of the community are in the fray from the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Of the 70 constituencies in Delhi, Rajouri Garden and Tilak Nagar have the highest number of Sikh voters (nearly 55,000).

“It being a stiff electoral battle, especially for the assembly, the polls are won by narrow margins, thus making Sikhs an important factor though they are small in number,” said DSGMC president and two-time Rajouri Garden MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa who has started campaigning the segment. Sirsa, who is general secretary of the Badals-led SAD, many parties are upset due to our party’s hold on Sikhs in Delhi.

He said the constituencies where Sikhs are a factor are Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar, Shahdara, Kalkaji besides Moti Nagar, Vikas Puri, Hari Nagar, Rajinder Nagar, Jangpura, GTB Nagar, Punjabi Bagh and Geeta Colony.

AAP’s Jarnail Singh, who in the 2015 polls won from Rajouri Garden but resigned when he was unsuccessfully contested against SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi in the2017 Punjab assembly polls, refused to comment saying that party has denied him a ticket.

Jatinder Singh Shanty, a Sikh, was MLA from Shahdara where he has a considerable hold even as the community does have a significant number there.

Sirsa’s bête noire and former DSGMC head Manjit Singh GK said currently Sikhs are confused over extending support to the BJP-SAD coalition or even others. He said Sikhs are not passive voters and influence other voters.

“After severing ties with the Congress to vote for SAD-BJP alliance candidates, the Sikhs extended support to the AAP. Now, they are confused,” said GK who parted ways with SAD after he faced charges of usurping gurdwara funds.

He said since many Sikhs are traders, builders, transporters and industrialists, they also support the elections financially.

Tarun Chugh, co-incharge of BJP campaign in Delhi, said Sikhs are always important for their party which is evident from the works done by them for the community.

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