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Manjinder Sirsa — SAD MLA & once BJP advocate who is now behind langars at farmers’ agitation

Sirsa is also president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, which has set up the largest single langar service at the protest site. 

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Chandigarh: On Thursday, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, tweeted accusations that the police and state government of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were not allowing protesting farmers to march onto the national capital. Both are BJP-ruled states. 

“Dictatorship of Police and State govts failed in front of the passion and courage of Farmers at UP/Uttarakhand Border,” he tweeted. 

 

He also called on the Supreme Court to intervene. 

 

Over the course of the farmers’ agitation, Sirsa, who is also a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA and the party spokesperson, has been spearheading one of more critical political campaigns against the BJP.

His social media feed is filled with not just vociferous support for the agitating farmers but also vocal condemnation of the BJP, his party’s erstwhile partner.

Though as president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee he faced flak for Prime Minister Narendra Modi being honoured with a siropa during his impromptu visit to Gurdwara Rakab Ganj New Delhi last Sunday, Sirsa has of late taken a position against the central government, particularly since his party broke off ties with the BJP in September.

It’s a volte-face for the Sikh politician who whole-heartedly backed the ‘Hindutva ideology’ when the two parties were allies. 

For instance, in December last year, the MLA from Rajouri Garden in Delhi hit the headlines after he and his supporters sprayed black paint on the “Aurangzeb Lane” road sign, wanting to “erase” the name of the “cruel emperor” from history books.

 

In September, days before his party broke off ties with the BJP, he lodged a complaint with the Narcotic Control Bureau over an alleged “drug party” by Bollywood stars such as Karan Johar and Deepika Padukone.

“Bollywood stars painted Punjab as a den of drug addicted youth, they defamed Punjabis with ‘Udta Punjab’ while they themselves are into drugs,” Sirsa told the media back then.

He has since changed tack.  He shot off a legal notice to actor Kangana Ranaut in the first week of December for insulting aged women participating in the farmers’ agitation.

His latest “mission” took him to agitate at the Delhi-UP border Monday where hundreds of farmers were stopped by the UP Police from joining the agitation in the national capital. 


Also read: Why Indian agriculture needs reforms but cannot be forced upon farmers


The politician from Haryana 

A 48-year-old Sikh politician from Sirsa in Haryana, Manjinder Singh Sirsa is a close aide of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and has been his political advisor since 2016. 

He won the Rajouri Garden bypoll in 2017 after the seat fell vacant when the sitting Aam Aadmi Party MLA Jarnail Singh decided to quit and contest assembly elections in Punjab. Sirsa is the richest MLA in the Delhi assembly with a net worth of Rs 185 crore. In the 2015 Delhi assembly elections, he lost to Jarnail Singh. 

Sirsa was doing graduation at the Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College but left and got into real estate. He started dabbling in electoral politics in 2005 winning the municipal elections from Punjabi Bagh in 2007. In 2012 his wife retained his seat in the municipal corporation outdoing him in terms of a victory margin. 

Control over DSGMC

When the Akalis regained power in Punjab in 2012, they managed to wrest control of the DSGMC defeating the virtually indomitable Paramjit Singh Sarna and his team the following year. Sirsa was among the Akalis’ winning team. 

He was then appointed the general secretary of the committee. In March 2017, Sirsa again defeated Sarna and retained his position as the general secretary in the DSGMC. 

The DSGMC controls all the major historical shrines of the Sikhs in Delhi along with several religious and educational institutions. 

Controversial career

In January last year, the Delhi Police booked the then DSGMC president Manjit Singh G.K. on charges of indulging in corruption in the funds meant for the gurdwaras. Sirsa was believed to be behind the move.  

In March 2019, Sirsa took over as the president of the committee. 

Last month, a Delhi court directed the registration of an FIR against Sirsa for charges of corruption when he was the general secretary in 2013. The complaint against Sirsa alleges that he “abused his position by raising fictitious bills to get wrongful gains of over Rs 65 lakh received by the committee in donations”.

Sirsa denied the allegations saying that he was ready for any probe.

In 2016, Sirsa’s father Jasbir Singh was sentenced to two years in jail for fabricating the general power of attorney (GPA) of a late Kenyan freedom fighter.

Farmers agitation

Though politicians are banned from speaking at the farmers’ agitation and have made themselves conveniently rare, Sirsa has taken to organising langars, distributing blankets and woollens at the Tikri border. The langar by the DSGMC is the largest single langar service at the spot. 

The DSGMC donated a roti-making machine to the farmers and recently he organised a novel “dastaar langar” at the site, where he distributed pagdis to the farmers. 

For the past two days he has been on the road visiting the spots where the UP police has stopped the agitating farmers from entering Delhi. 


Also read: ‘Backing farmers not anti-party’ — grandad’s legacy drives Jat dynast from BJP to join protest


 

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