Days after his father and Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa rebelled against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership, Lehragaga MLA and former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa on Friday resigned as leader of the SAD legislature party in Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal accepted the resignation shortly after it was received at the party headquarters.
Parminder’s resignation comes less than a month after he and his father skipped an event where Sukhbir was re-elected as SAD chief for the third time.
Sukhdev Dhindsa had instead attended a parallel event in Amritsar on December 14 to observe 99th foundation day of the party, but Parminder did not attend the same either.
The move deals another blow to the SAD president, whose leadership has been questioned by senior Dhindsa and the trio of Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Rattan Singh Ajnala who have formed a separate political outfit called SAD (Taksali). Their main grouse is that SAD has been reduced to “a party ruled by a family” and there is “no democracy in its functioning”.
Parminder’s resignation as leader of the party in Vidhan Sabha was announced by SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema in a tweet Friday evening that read, “SAD president S Sukhbir Singh Badal has accepted the resignation of Parminder Singh Dhindsa from leadership of the party in the Vidhan Sabha.”
Former Cabinet minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon was named the new leader of SAD legislature party in Vidhan Sabha.
This was also made public by Cheema in a tweet 28 minutes later which read, “Sukhbir Singh Badal has announced that S Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, former Cabinet minister, will be the new leader of the House in Vidhan Sabha.”
While Parminder was not available for comment, his father Sukhdev said, “I welcome it. The strange thing is that the resignation was not discussed in the legislature party and accepted. One can say that the resignation was addressed to SAD president and hence accepted, but the more strange thing is that a new leader of legislature party was announced by Sukhbir Badal, who is otherwise chosen by the legislature party. This is the dictatorship we have been protesting against.”
In his two-line resignation in Punjabi, Parminder wrote, “I resign from the post of Akali legislature party leader. I hope you will oblige by accepting my resignation.”
Sukhdev had been categorically saying that his son would not go against him. “Main vi kehna chahuna. Ohne vi keha ki main aapne baap ton pare nahi ja sakda. Hor is ton vadda ishara ki ho sakda (I also want to say what he has already said that he cannot go against me. What bigger indication can there be than this?” senior Dhindsa had said two days ahead of the December 14 event at Amritsar.
To claim his support, the SAD leadership had been citing a 26-second video message by Parminder on his Facebook page on December 11 in which he had said, “Koyee naraazgi nahi. Shiromani Akali Dal ne mainu bahut vadda maan dita. Main panj vaari MLA banya, do vaari mantri vi banya. So Shiromani Akali Dal ton paase hataan da Shiromani Akali Dal ton — jiven log kias arayian laa rahe ne — door hon da koyee sawaal hi paida nahi hunda (There is no resentment. SAD has honoured me in a big way. I became MLA for five terms and minister twice. Hence, contrary to the speculations, the question of parting ways with SAD does not arise).”
The video disappeared from Parminder’s Facebook page on Friday.
Parminder submitted his resignation on the day Sukhbir Badal chaired a meeting of the SAD core committee at party headquarters, which went on for over two hours. Two of the core committee members said that during the meeting, it was not known that Parminder had resigned.
“In fact, a couple of core committee members did try to talk about the Parminder Dhindsa issue, but the party president said there was no point talking about it since Parminder had been maintaining a silence and had not said anything against the party,” said a core committee member who attended the meeting.
Senior BJP leader Harjit Singh Grewal, when asked to comment on the issue, said, “We wish that the Akali Dal remains united. Akali Dal has a glorious history and a party which emerged out of struggles. It does not matter who is the party president or who is not, the party should remain united. There has to be one president but all leaders have to jointly run the party. A strong party is good for our alliance. Hence, we wish that the differences get sorted out.”
Grewal, however, added, “Though it is not good to make comments on other parties, but why this happened, why there is resentment, party president Sukhbir Singh Badal and party supremo Parkash Singh Badal should address this by holding talks.”
A senior SAD leader said, “This is the first step that Parminder has taken to start working with his father. This is an indicator that he is going to join the group supported by his father. People were thinking of what Parminder will do because he is young political leader of the Dhindsa family and if he joins his father, the group will gain momentum. He is a youth leader and can play a very proactive role in the group. It is going to have an impact for sure.”
Unhappy over the functioning of the party under the command of Sukhbir Badal and attributing to him SAD’s massive defeat in the 2017 Assembly elections, senior Dhindsa had resigned from all party posts in 2018.
In October, he had also resigned as leader of the party in Rajya Sabha.
Both senior Dhindsa and Parminder however continue to be in SAD and remain Rajya Sabha MP and party MLA in Punjab, respectively.