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Party in SAD state, say three Akali stalwarts

October 01, 2018 05:18 AM

courtesy  HT OCT 1

Party in SAD state, say three Akali stalwarts
Badal senior steps in to defuse situation, reaches out to trio
AMRITSAR/CHANDIGARH: A day after senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa quit all party posts, the Shiromani Akali Dal was in the throes of a serious crisis on Sunday with three of its senior-most leaders, including a sitting Lok Sabha MP, openly raising questions over the working of the party.

SAMEER SEHGAL/HT
■ SAD MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura (C), flanked by SAD leader Sewa Singh Sekhwan (left) and ex­MP Rattan Singh Ajnala, addressing mediapersons in Amritsar on Sunday.
The three Akali stalwarts – Khadoor Sahib MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, former minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan and former MP Rattan Singh Ajnala – expressed their dismay at the “sad state of affairs” in the party. “All is not well in the party. This is reason we have come together to raise the issue,” they said at a joint press conference without directly naming anyone.

Sekhwan said they will not let anyone destroy the party. The trio’s statement, which came barely hours after Dhindsa’s resignation, triggered turmoil in the beleaguered party, forcing Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal into fire-fighting mode to try and contain the damage. The Akalis are already passing through their worst political phase in recent memory following the former chief minister’s indictment by the Ranjit Singh Commission, which looked into sacrilege cases and subsequent firing by cops on Sikh protesters in 2015, for the police action at Kotkapura.

The SAD and its top leadership are under fire from all sides for the “pardon” granted to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in 2015. The dissenting voices, especially those of Akali veterans, are only going to make things worse.

Badal, who sensed the urgency of the situation, immediately stepped in and spoke to Brahmpura and other senior leaders. He invited them to a rally planned by his son and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal in CM Capt Amarinder Singh’s Patiala assembly constituency on October 7. The showdown rally is a matter of prestige for Badal as Amarinder is also holding a public meeting in his (Badal’s) Lambi constituency the same day.

Brahmpura said he received calls from Badal inviting him to the October 7 rally. “Badal saab had not spoken to me for many days. He called me up yesterday and today. The party was holding rallies against the Congress government in the state without taking other party leaders along,” he told HT. Badal also made an appeal to Dhindsa, who quit all party positions citing declining health, but he is learnt to have refused to budge from his stand. A party leader said Badal tried to speak to Dhindsa, but could not get through to him. Dhindsa did, however, speak to Brahmpura and Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra. His son, former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who was away to Austria, is also rushing back.

At their press conference, Brahmpura and other two leaders, whose remarks are a pointer to a storm brewing in the party, said they had got together to discuss party-related issues and will continue to do so in future also. Asked to clarify the reason behind calling the press conference, Sekhwan said, “The Akal Takht, SGPC and SAD are representative bodies of the panth. We held the meeting to discuss the current scenario.”

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