CHANDIGARH: The joint celebrations to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in Punjab are set to go ahead despite the Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) not seeing eye to eye.
The SGPC and the Congress are at loggerheads regarding the arrangements, with the Sikh body saying that the government had not sent its representatives for meetings on two occasions. SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said, "The Congress government in Punjab is not serious about joint celebrations as it has not sent its representatives for the last two joint coordination committee meetings on the celebrations. Let us see if the government sends its representatives for the next meeting scheduled for September 16."
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday made it clear that there was no question of the state government not supporting the SGPC to celebrate the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak. The government would extend full support to the religious body for any event it planned to hold within the Gurudwara Sahib precincts, while the state would hold the main event outside the premises, as in the past, he added. As a religious body, the SGPC was entitled to hold any event within the gurdwaras it controls, he said, but once again appealed to them to cooperate with his government in holding a joint state-level programme, befitting of the historic occasion.
For the first time, a Punjab cabinet meeting has been convened outside Chandigarh on Tuesday at the historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi. The meeting will not only review the arrangements for the upcoming celebrations to commemorate the birth anniversary but is also seen as a move by the Congress government to sway Sikh sentiment in its favour.
Asked why the September 10 cabinet meeting was being held in Sultanpur Lodhi instead of Chandigarh, Amarinder clarified that he and his entire cabinet had decided to visit the area to oversee the arrangements for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations and would hold their meeting also there.
Meanwhile, Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, "It is sad that the Jathedar of Akal Takht sahib had to appeal to everybody including the state government to jointly commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. In the past, every party has risen above politics to commemorate the anniversary but this government is playing politics though the five high priests visited the CM and invited him."