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‘SGPC in Haryana’ rocks Parliament

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Functioning of both Houses of Parliament was disrupted in the morning session on Thursday over the proposed move to create a Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in Haryana, even as Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda offered to hold a referendum among the Sikhs living in the State.

Question hour became a casualty as the BJP and its ally, Shiromani Akali Dal, warned against the “move” to carve out a “Haryana SGPC.” Congressmen retaliated by pointing out that the views of Sikhs living in Haryana could not be ignored.

In the Lok Sabha, the BJP-SAD combine found ready support from the Samajwadi Party. Trouble began in both Houses at the start of the proceedings itself. The Houses were immediately adjourned as SAD members Rattan Singh Ajnala and Harsimrat Kaur trooped into the well of the Lok Sabha and in the Rajya Sabha, S.S. Ahluwalia of the BJP led the protest.

The protesters kept up a steady chant in the Rajya Sabha making it difficult to begin question hour. The Opposition relented to allow new members take oath. When both Houses met again, the Presiding Officers sought to take up question hour through persistent slogan-shouting, but gave in as Opposition kept up its protest.

The BJP and SAD members raised the issue again when the Houses reassembled after the second adjournment. After a brief spell of wrangling, they were allowed to have their say. Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha K. Rahman Khan turned down demands for a statement from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who Mr. Ahluwalia said, was “also a Sikh.”

Mr. Khan repeatedly intervened during a subsequent airing of views to keep the issue on “bifurcation of the SGPC” when the members tried to recall the separatist movement of the 1980s.

In the Lok Sabha, Mr. Ajnala described the move as interfering with the internal matters of the Sikh community and a “sinister effort” to divide the Committee.

In the Rajya Sabha, three speakers were allowed to have their say. Mr. Ahluwalia recalled the support given by leaders of the freedom movement to the agitation for a SGPC. In particular, he mentioned the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru at a “morcha” at Jaito (in Moga district of Punjab). Raj Mahinder Singh Majitha (SAD) alleged the issue was being raised to get political mileage in Haryana where Assembly polls are due.

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