The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has convened a party meeting on Friday, aimed at sending out a message to all its workers to ensure that the November 1 Punjabi Suba golden jubilee celebrations in Amritsar would be a mega show of political strength.
Party MPs, ministers, legislators, district presidents, members of core committee and political affairs committee and representatives of different wings of the party have all been called for the meeting that will be chaired by SAD president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal.
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A SAD leader said no agenda has been specified but it was expected that the discussions would centre on making the November 1 function at Amritsar a big show of strength.
Those participating in the Friday meeting are expecting to be told by the SAD leadership to ensure maximum participation by arranging for transportation and mobilisation of people for the function. One leader said party functionaries had been asked to bring at least 2,000 bus-loads of people from the four districts of Majha alone.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is scheduled to attend the Amritsar function. The Akali Dal also wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attend the function, but that looks unlikely as he is scheduled to attend the Haryana golden jubilee celebrations on the same day in Gurgaon. According to Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia, BJP national president Amit Shah may attend the function, but there was no confirmation yet.
At the meeting, Sukhbir is also likely to discuss the strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls, including plans for big public rallies. After the Punjabi Suba celebrations in Majha, the next big function by SAD-BJP government is scheduled in Doaba on November 6 where one phase of the Jang-e-Azadi memorial at Kartarpur is to be thrown open to public. On December 8, according to a senior SAD leader, SAD-BJP alliance will hold “one of the biggest rallies in Malwa region at Moga to formally launch SAD’s poll campaign” for the 2017 elections. December 8 is also the birthday of SAD patriarch and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The SAD-BJP combine, which is going into this election with the burden of anti-incumbency, had kickstarted its poll campaign for the 2007 Assembly elections with a rally in Moga district. That rally was attended by senior BJP leaders like L K Advani, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. The SAD-BJP alliance had then hit out at the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for “trying to protect” Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament attack, and executed in UPA’s second term.
For the 2012 elections too, the SAD-BJP combine had formally sounded the poll bugle from the same place with a rally on December 18, 2011. The theme of that rally, besides bashing the Congress-led UPA and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over a series of scams, was “development agenda” of SAD-BJP government in Punjab.
This time, SAD-BJP government will project “unprecedented development” in various spheres coupled with its memorial building work. The combine may also pat itself on the back for the surgical strike across the LoC.
The Malwa region, in which Moga district is located, sends 69 members to the Punjab Assembly, more than half the total seats of 117 in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. It is often said that road to Punjab Vidhan Sabha goes through Malwa, most of which is located across the Sutlej river.
Doaba, the region primarily located between Sutlej and Beas, has 23 seats and the Majha, which comprises the region most of which is located between Beas and Ravi, has 25 seats.