Sukhbir Badal faces rebellion, section of leaders asks him to step down as party chief

Sukhbir Singh Badal
Sukhbir Singh Badal

Chandigarh | A section of senior Shiromani Akali Dal leaders on Tuesday revolted against Sukhbir Singh Badal, demanding that he should step down as party chief following the SAD's debacle in the Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting in Jalandhar, they also announced that a 'SAD bachao' movement would be launched next month.

The rebel leaders met in Jalandhar when SAD chief Badal was holding a meeting with the district presidents and other leaders in Chandigarh to review the party's performance in the Lok Sabha polls. The party called the rebel leaders "frustrated elements sponsored by the BJP" to weaken it.

The SAD faced a drubbing in the general elections as it managed to win only one of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. Badal's wife and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal retained the Bathinda seat.

SAD's 10 candidates lost security deposits in the polls while its vote share dropped to 13.42 per cent from 27.45 per cent in 2019.

After around five-hour-long meeting, the rebels asked Badal to step down as party president.

Talking to reporters, former Akali MP Chandumajra said they held a detailed discussion on the party's "past mistakes and shortcomings" which have led to its current position. They also discussed ways to revive the party.

He said it has been decided to seek forgiveness for the "past mistakes and shortcomings" at the Akal Takht on July 1.

A letter in this regard will be submitted to the office of the Akal Takht, which is the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs.

A 'Shiromani Akali Dal bachao' movement will also be launched on that day, he further said.

A resolution, which was passed in the meeting, said it was felt that the leadership of Shiromani Akali Dal was "losing connect" with the common people, which led to disillusionment among the people.

There was a need to launch a 'Shiromani Akali Dal bachao lehar' to re-connect with people, who had drifted away from the SAD and to regain their trust.

Replying to a question, Chandumajra said keeping in mind the sentiments of party workers in view of the current situation, an appeal has been made that Badal should show the sentiments of 'tyag' (sacrifice).

He said the party leadership should be given to a personality having strong religious and political understanding.

Apparently pointing towards Badal, Maluka said one should think about why the party performed badly in the 2017 and 2022 assembly polls and now in the Lok Sabha polls.

In Chandigarh, the Akali Dal said the "frustrated elements sponsored by the BJP" are trying to "weaken" the party from within can be seen in full swing. But these will not be allowed to succeed, it said.

In the resolutions passed unanimously by the SAD district presidents and the 'halka in charges', the party said that BJP and government agencies "are behind attempts to weaken or break the Shiromani Akali Dal."

The resolutions placed on record the party's wholehearted appreciation of and faith in the "clear-headed, far-sighted and resolute leadership of the party president Sukhbir Singh Badal."

As many as 33 out of the existing 35 district presidents and 96 out of the existing 105 'Halqa' (constituency) in-charges of the party lauded the leadership of Badal.

Of these 33 district presidents, 28 attended the meeting while the five who could not make it informed the party of their support for the president in writing.

The members strongly urged the party president to take strict disciplinary action against those who are "acting as agents of the enemies of the party, panth and Punjab and trying to create dissensions and misunderstandings among the 'Sangat' about the party's 'panthic' agenda."

The resolutions also praised the president for standing up to "unprecedented pressures from the powers that be and for refusing to compromise on matters of high principles of Sikh qaum, Punjab and the party".

Addressing the meeting, Badal shared personal details of how he had gone out of his way to accommodate everyone. "But nothing is above the interests of the party. My own family comes only after my party," said Badal.

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