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Akali Dal expels Rajya Sabha member, his MLA-son for questioning Badals’ rule within party

Party spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said the decision was taken after the Akali Dal’s core committee meeting, presided over by Sukhbir, adopted a resolution moved in a party rally in Sangrur on Sunday.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh | Updated: February 4, 2020 11:15:01 am
Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa resigns, SAD leader Sukhdev Singh, Sukhdev Singh Akali Dal, Indian express Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. (File)

The Shiromani Akali Dal Monday expelled veteran leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his legislator son Parminder Singh Dhindsa, the move coming days after the duo were suspended for questioning the “undemocratic manner” in which the party was functioning under Sukhbir Singh Badal and his family.

Confirming the development, party spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said that the decision was taken after the Akali Dal’s core committee meeting here, presided over by Sukhbir, adopted a resolution moved in a party’s rally in Sangrur on Sunday.

Terming it as “sangat da faisla”, Cheema said a “gathering of lakhs” had passed the resolution in Sangrur seeking the expulsion of the father-son duo.

On Sunday, addressing a rally in Sangrur, considered a stronghold of the Dhindsa, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had accused the the duo of stabbing the party in the back.

“Sukhbir has given (them) a very correct name. They are not Taksalis, but jaali (fake), dhokebaaj (betrayer). They have cheated their own party. None would be allowed to weaken the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) at any cost,” the SAD patron had said.

After being suspended from the SAD, Dhindsa had announced that his first fight was to ensure that SGPC is wrested out of the control of the Badals.

Asked about the time period for which the Dhindsas have been expelled and whether the party would move to get their Rajya Sabha and Assembly membership canceled, Cheema said, “Aje bahuta likha parhi vich nahi payeeda (We should not go into much details). The action (of expulsion) would be recorded and party would complete all formal requirements.”

Reacting to the development, Dhindsa said, “I welcome it. Those who are not real Akalis are expelling the real Akalis. I will raise the real Akali Dal.”

“I will remain an MP and Parminder will remain an MLA,” he added.

In an earlier core committee meeting on January 11, the Akali Dal while suspending the father-son duo had announced to issue show cause notices to them. However, the notices, under which the Dhindsas had to submit a reply within 15 days, were never issued.

Parminder said this “undemocratic functioning of Akali Dal” was exactly what he and his father had been highlighting. “Firstly, we were supposed to have been issued a show cause notice, which never reached us. Now without getting a reply from us, they have dismissed us. This is the total autocratic functioning that we have been opposing. This is how this party has been functioning. This is what has led to its downfall,” the Lehragaga MLA said.

Asked about the Akail Dal referring to the resolution passed by the gathering in party’s rally in Sangrur while expelling him and his father, Parminder said, “Who brought in the resolution? The ones who were controlling the stage. It was all an eyewash.”

Asked whether he will remain a legislator, Parminder said, “We will sit and discuss.”

Citing health grounds, Dhindsa, who was the party secretary general at that time, had quit all party posts in September 2018, more than a year after SAD’s worst ever performance in Punjab elections where party was relegated to third position with 14 seats in the 117-strong Assembly.

Subsequently, Dhindsa started questioning the leadership abilities and style of functioning of Sukhbir as party president, blaming him for the debacle and demanding that he step down. In October last year, Dhindsa also quit as party’s leader in Rajya Sabha. SAD, however, claimed that they had already replaced Dhindsa with Balwinder Singh Bhunder as party leader in the Upper House and nominated Naresh Gujral as the deputy leader way back in June and had apprised the concerned ministry of the same. Dhindsa had questioned the claim.

The flashpoint between the Dhindsa and Sukhbir came when the former attended an event organised by the SAD (Taksali) leaders on the 99th foundation day of Akali Dal in Amritsar. On the same day on December 14 last year, SAD re-elected Sukhbir as party president for third time in a row.

Parminder, who was SAD legislature party leader in the Vidhan Sabha, was conspicuous by his absence at both the events.

In the first week of January, Parminder announced resignation as leader of SAD legislature party. Ever since, he has also been questioning the functioning of the party.

The father-son duo were suspended from the party on January 11. Both had been maintaining that they will continue their struggle by remaining within the party and that was why they had not resigned as primary members of SAD.

With the rebels mounting an onslaught on Sukhbir, the Ferozepur MP has also been hitting back, calling Dhindsa, a “dictator” who was politically on a “suicide mission” and who had in the process also “jeopardized the political prospects of his son”.

In November 2018, SAD core committee had expelled three veterans from Majha – Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Rattan Singh Ajnala for “anti-party activities”. The trio had also questioned the functioning of Sukhbir as party president. The trio subsequently, formed Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali), calling it the “real Akali Dal”.

Dhindsa and SAD (Taksali) had earlier announced that they will focus on contesting elections to the SGPC, the body that controls Sikh shrines and educational institutes, and is often considered the cash cow of SAD. They had said that they will approach Union Home Minister Amit Shah to appoint a Gurdwara Elections Chief Commissioner (GECC) and hold the long-overdue elections so that they can “free SGPC from the Badals”.

Former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) chief Manjit Singh G K -who won the last gurdwara elections in Delhi without the support of the Badals – has already joined hands with Dhindsa and the Taksali leaders.

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