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Brahmpura return gives Akali Dal shot in arm ahead of Punjab polls

As embattled SAD gears up to fight a tough, four-cornered election in alliance with BSP, it attempts to consolidate Akali camp, appealing to rebel leaders to return to party fold

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 26, 2021 7:32:20 am
After parting ways with the SAD in 2018, Brahmpura, who had been a close aide of the Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, floated the breakaway faction, SAD (Taksali).

The prospects of the embattled Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) got a boost ahead of the upcoming Punjab Assembly polls, with the 84-year-old rebel Akali leader Ranjit Singh Brahmpura returning to the party fold.

After parting ways with the SAD in 2018, Brahmpura, who had been a close aide of the Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, floated the breakaway faction, SAD (Taksali).

Once dubbed as “Majhe da Jarnail” (General of Majha region of Punjab), Brahmpura, a former MP and four-time MLA, had quit the SAD on a bitter note, questioning the functioning of Sukhbir Badal as party president and blaming him for the SAD’s debacle in the 2017 Assembly polls. The SAD was then decimated, losing even the status of the principal Opposition to the fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

As the beleagured Akali Dal, with new alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), gears up to fight a tough, four-cornered electoral battle – involving the ruling Congress, the AAP, and former ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has tied up with ex-Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s Lok Punjab Congress – it has appealed to all rebel leaders to return to the party fold in what is a clear bid to consolidate the Akali camp.

The significance of Brahmpura’s re-joining the SAD could be gauged from the point that Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir, his son, themselves went to his house in Chandigarh Thursday.

Lauding Brahmpura, Parkash Badal said if he got the opportunity to become the Punjab CM five times, the former had a “big role” in it. “Brahmpura Sahab is an Akali and will always remain an Akali. Today I am very happy that two brothers have joined hands again,” he said. Noting that the SAD had got a boost with the return of Brahmpura, he also said, “I appeal to other Akali leaders who have left the mother party to follow the path chosen by Brahmpura.”

Speaking on the occasion, Brahmpura said, “I was on leave from my parent party for some time in the same manner in which a ‘fauji’ goes on leave for some time before rejoining his battalion.” He said the SAD had done “the most sacrifices for the “panth” (Sikh community) and Punjab and now it is our responsibility to strengthen the party.”

Parkash also instructed Sukhbir to ensure that Brahmpura’s concerns are taken care of. Later in the day, the Akali patriarch and Brahmpura attended the SAD’s core committee meeting.

In the run-up to the Punjab Assembly election due for early next year, the Akali Dal has suffered a series of setbacks. Its key Majha region leader and Sukhbir’s brother-in-law, Bikram Singh Majithia has now been booked by the Punjab Police in a drugs case.

Recently, the SAD had got a jolt when its prominent pro-farmer agitation face Manjinder Singh Sirsa, a close aide of Sukhbir and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) chief, quit the party and joined the BJP.

After breaking its long-standing alliance with the BJP in protest against the Centre’s farm laws, which have now been repealed, the SAD joined hands with the Mayawati-led BSP in order to tap into the Dalit vote base in the state. After jettisoning Capt Amarinder, the ruling Congress, however, sprung a surprise, appointing Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit leader, as the new CM.

Of the total 117 Punjab Assembly seats, the SAD is contesting 97 and the BSP on 20 seats.

Sukhbir has now also been regularly visiting Hindu temples, not only in Punjab but also in adjoining Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Senior Akali leader from Malwa Phul Sikander Singh Maluka said the return of Brahmpura to the party fold will give a fillip to the party’s electoral prospects in Majha region where the veteran leader wields influence.

Brahmpura said he had decided to re-join the Akali Dal after Acting Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Harpreet Singh, made an appeal to panthic forces to come together.

On December 22, in a message to the Sikh community after an incident of alleged sacrilege at the Golden Temple, the Akal Takht chief said there was a need for “panthic unity”.

The Akal Takht chief is appointed by the apex representative body of Sikhs, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), a majority of whose members belong to the Akali Dal now.

Brahmpura’s move to re-join the Akali Dal comes at a time when the BJP has been making attempts to forge an alliance with another Akali
rebel leader, SAD (Sanyukt) president Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

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