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What to expect from the Gravesend Gurdwara election as Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal’s term comes to an end

The Guru Nanak Darbar committee has announced a meeting date for the election of its new president.

Current leader of the Gravesend gurdwara, Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal’s term will end this summer.

Current gurdwara president, Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal
Current gurdwara president, Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal

A meeting on Sunday July 9 at the Bhai Gurdas Hall, in the gurdwara will either determine the new president or set in motion an election.

If only one candidate stands and the gurdwara congregation (sangat), unanimously agree in their favour, that person will assume the leadership role.

If there are more nominations, or should the sangat disagree on the person filling the position, then the next stage of the process will begin.

General secretary, Jagdev Singh Virdee, said: “At the meeting, if it is decided that we need an election, a board is appointed – normally of five people.

“They will organise it all. This will be updating the register and then overseeing the actual election.”

Gurdwara general secretary, Jagdev Singh Virdee
Gurdwara general secretary, Jagdev Singh Virdee

Those eligible to vote will be those who are both members of the gurdwara and who are registered to vote in the area, according to the Gravesham council electoral register.

Jagdev explained: “The constitution which was written back in 1984 says that, and is called the area of benefit.

“At that time it was deemed that the gurdwara was likely being used by the people in Gravesham and so it was for the benefit of the people living in the area.“

The elections, a long-standing tradition at the gurdwara, happen each term which is every two years.

The old gurdwara in Clarence Place
The old gurdwara in Clarence Place

As the current gurdwara in Guru Nanak Marg began to be built in 2002, elections were halted until its completion a decade later.

During this time, the president remained the same each term, as agreed by the sangat until the new gurdwara opened in 2010.

“That year, we had to create an entirely new register – it was very,very out of date, so it took a long time.

“The election was in October 2013 and since then it’s been around that time of the year, every two years.”

“Now, we’re trying to get back on track to having it in June, which is what the constitution says,” said Jagdev.

The Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Gravesend
The Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Gravesend

Current mukh sewadar Manpreet was first elected in a delayed election in January 2020 after receiving the most votes of the three candidates that stood.

His historical win made him the youngest president, and he continued to run for a second term after the sangat unanimously agreed in his favour in October 2021.

He will now step down this summer and make way for a new person to lead the gurdwara community for the next couple of years.

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