A group of expelled and dissident Akali leaders Tuesday “elected” Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, a move that the nearly 100-year-old regional party dubbed as “illegal and fraud”.
Currently, Ferozepur MP Sukhbir Singh Badal is the SAD president, his third consecutive term at the helm of the party founded in 1920.
Dhindsa and his son, former state finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa were expelled from the SAD on February 2 allegedly for “anti-party” activities. In a tit-for-tat move, Dhindsa, during a convention attended by dissident Akali leaders in Sangrur on February 23 had “expelled” Sukhbir from the SAD.
At an event at Gurdwara Shaheedan in Ludhiana’s Model Town, former MP Parminder Kaur Gulshan proposed Dhindsa’s name for the post of SAD president, which was seconded by former Punjab minister Jagdish Singh Garcha, SAD (Taksali) leader Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Harjit Kaur Talwandi, daughter of former SGPC chief the late Jagdev Singh Talwandi
Dhindsa was “declared the president” of the SAD amidst slogans of “jo bole so nihal”.
Former state Youth Akali Dal president Nidhark Singh Brar said they will soon get an office for the “newly elected president” of the SAD at Amritsar.
Meanwhile, senior SAD leader Daljeet Singh Cheema described this move as “illegal and fraud” and accused the expelled leader of acting at the behest of the Congress. Cheema said the SAD is a 100-year-old party which is registered with the Election Commission of India.
“What they have done is 100 per cent fraud. It is illegal and amounts to forgery. They are doing it at the behest of the Congress,” alleged Cheema.
The SAD had earlier alleged that the Rajya Sabha MP and his son were being used as “pawns” by the Congress in a bid to weaken the ”panthic” party.
Dhindsa, however, said that there was no hurdle in him being elected as SAD president as “we had dismissed Sukhbir as party chief” and “sangat chose me”.
“Sukhbir had been dismissed from the party in our resolution passed on February 23 in Sangrur. If any technical problem arises regarding the name of party, we will add ‘Democratic’ to it,” Dhindsa told the Indian Express.
On Cheema’s assertion, Dhindsa said, “If any legal issues crop up, we will handle it”.
The 84-year-old leader said he will strive hard to establish the eroded principles of the Sikh politics and liberate Sikh institutions from the “clutches” of Badals.
“People must be thinking as to why I am walking this way at an age when others think of retirement. I had tried hard to set things right within the party, but Sukhbir did not let any other voice being heard. Hence, gradually people started moving out. First leaders came out to form SAD (Taksali). Later my son and I too moved out. There are many within the party who are unhappy with the decisions of Sukhbir, but are not able to speak out. Someone had to make a start and let it be done through me. This is a fight of issues and everyone is looking for a direction. Punjab needs to be saved and they must support this `honest’ SAD. We need to restore the old glory of SGPC as well,” he added.
Dhindsa said the party will pay a special attention to the farming community and work for improving the condition of the Dalits and minorities. The party will work for the eradication of mafias involved in “looting” sand, transport, liquor and other natural resources of the state, said Dhindsa.
He added that women had always made exemplary contributions to all Sikh movements and their services will be honoured by giving them due representation in party.
Former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara management committee Manjeet Singh GK, president of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara management committee Didar Singh Nalvi, former Union minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and several Sikh organisations supported Dhindsa in his initiative.
During the event at the gurdwara, Dhindsa repeatedly said that the SGPC needs to be freed from clutches of Badals. “Our new committee will win SGPC elections. After that we will expose all the scams that have taken place in the SGPC, which is currently under control of Badals,” Dhindsa said.
The sacrilege incidents are being probed by the SITs and now people want to know about the missing 267 saroops of Guru Granth Sahib from the Golden Temple, he added.
Dhindsa said Sukhbir had been asking how a party can function without funds. “I want to announce that Rs 4 lakh in voluntary donations have reached us and there are many more who want to donate. I have told them that it is not the time to collect funds. We will do that when needed,” he added.
The programme was organised in a jam packed hall where more that 150 people were seeen sitting close to each other. Gurmeet Singh Johal, media advisor of Dhindsa, said, “We had called only 50 persons, but many others came on their own. We could not say no to them.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines