Amid a virtual revolt by a section of Taksali Akalis (old guard), Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said Sunday the SAD was nobody’s personal fiefdom and he was ready to quit his post the moment the party so wishes. “Let me tell you one thing. SAD has given me an opportunity to serve. If they will say you leave and let someone else take over, I am ready,” Badal said.
He said he was always duty-bound to do whatever the party asks him and if they demand his resignation he was ready for it.
“Party is supreme, no individual is bigger than the party. I have said it on every stage that SAD is no one’s personal fiefdom. Till the time party wants I will continue, the moment they want me to step down, I will do so,” he told reporters in Amritsar when asked if his leadership was being challenged by a section of Taksali leaders from Majha region.
Badal, in a bid to quell rebellious voices, said all veteran Akali leaders were his elders and he respects them. Showing respect to senior party leaders Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan, who have raised a banner of virtual revolt, he said he respects them and knows they have immensely contributed to the party.
Badal said, “He (Ajnala) has made a big contribution for party and dedicated his entire life to it. I keep seeking guidance from him. He is my elder.”
He said the Taksali leaders were “like our family members”.
The first signs of trouble for the SAD came to the fore when several Taksali leaders expressed discontent over the party’s functioning after the Ranjit Singh panel report, which looked into sacrilege cases and the subsequent police action, was made public two months back. Badal paid obeisance at the Golden Temple Sunday and visited dissident SAD leader Bhai Manjit Singh at his residence along with Majitha MLA Bikram Singh Majithia.
Ranjit Singh Brahmpura had recently relinquished all party posts on health grounds, the second party leader to do so within a month.
The Khadoor Sahib MP, who was holding the post of senior vice-president and was a member of party’s core committee, also declared he would not contest the next Lok Sabha polls, but would complete this term.
A day after veteran leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa resigned on September 30, Brahmpura, Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan virtually raised a banner of revolt saying “all was not well within the party.” Meanwhile, Sekhwan said Sunday he welcomed Badal’s statement that he was ready to quit if party so wished.
“I welcome it. The fact that the Taksali leaders resigned from posts, they did so to save the grand old party. Everyone has to realise that party posts mean nothing, we should all strive to ensure that party remains intact and flourishes,” he said.
Sekhwan said he had been raising for the past couple of years the issue that SAD had “deviated from its Panthic agenda. I had said a few years ago, a recording of which is still available on the Youtube, that party has deviated from Panthic agenda and it can harm it in future”.