Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Monday said that his government would soon formalise a decision making the broadcast of Gurbani from the Golden Temple in Amritsar free.

Gurbani is a composition by the Sikh Gurus that forms part of the religion’s sacred literature.

“With the blessings of God, we are going to make a historic decision tomorrow. As per the demand of all devotes, we are adding a new clause in the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 that the transmission of Gurbani from Harminder Sahib will be free for all...no tender required…” Mann said in a tweet.

As of now, the rights to broadcast Gurbani from the Golden Temple have been granted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee, to the PTC network, which is run by a company owned by the family of Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal.

On Monday, Opposition parties and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee criticised the decision by Mann, saying that the decision was a “direct attack” by the government on the Khalsa Panth (the community of baptised Sikhs) and Sikh gurdwaras, reported The Indian Express.

Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee chief Harjinder Singh Dhami accused the ruling Aam Aadmi Party of politicising the issue.

“I strongly condemn this,” Dhami said, according to ANI. “I urge Bhagwant Mann to not do anything like this…”

Dhami also said that the state government does not have to power to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 and that this can only be done by the Centre after holding consultations with the body.

“A religious issue is being given political colours in an attempt to appease the political master sitting in Delhi,” he added. “The Punjab government cannot frame this Act because it was drafted...before the partition. It cannot amend it…”

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal condemned the proposed move and said it was an attempt to control the gurdwaras.

“This decision has come as a reminiscent of excesses committed by the Mughals, the British and [former prime minister] Indira Gandhi, but Khalsa Panth will give a befitting reply to this,” he said. “The announcement…is not merely a direct attack on gurdwaras of Khalsa Panth, but on Sikh community also.”

The Congress, meanwhile, appeared divided on the move by Mann with former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu hailing the move but the party’s MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira calling it a “sad day”.

“Sarb Sanjhi Gurbaani” means for one and all with no discrimination. This was a cherished desire of millions of Sikhs across the globe including me, commendable effort BhagwantMann, Kudos !!” Sidhu said.

Bharatiya Janata Party national executive member Sunil Jakhar accused Mann of interfering in the religious affairs of Sikhs “to settle political scores”, according to The Indian Express.

“I am of the view that there should not be a monopoly over the telecast of Gurbani, but it is highly condemnable the way you are interfering in Sikh religious affairs to settle political scores and I strongly oppose the move to amend Gurdwara Act (which is not even in the domain of state’s right),” he said.