The father-son duo of Dhindsas, who have rebelled against the “family rule” in Shiromani Akali Dal, Sunday got support from an unlikely quarter Sunday with at least three Punjab ministers launching a scathing attack on the opposition party, which they said “had been clearly reduced to the personal fiefdom of the Badals under the leadership of Sukhbir Singh Badal.”
The Akali Dal on Saturday suspended Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his MLA son Parminder Singh Dhindsa, days after the latter quit as leader of SAD legislature party in Punjab Assembly and joined his father who has opened a front against Sukhbir, demanding that he step down as party president taking moral responsibility of party’s humiliating defeat in 2017 assembly elections.
“The Dhindsas have openly revolted against the stifling control of SAD by the Badals, declaring their intent to liberate the party from the family and revive its lost glory,” Ministers Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa (Rural Development & Panchayats), Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria (Housing and Urban Development), and Gurpreet Singh Kangar (Revenue), said in a statement.
Stating that the SAD was in a complete disarray, particularly in the post Prakash Singh Badal era, the ministers said the rebellion by the father-son duo was the latest example of the mounting disillusionment within the party against Sukhbir’s leadership and the lack of democracy prevailing in it. “If senior leaders of the party are so unhappy with the leadership and loss of ideology, one can only imagine how dissatisfied the ordinary workers would be,” the statement reads.
Stating that Badals should step down from all party posts, the ministers also criticised “Sukhbir’s wife and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s increasing interference in the party’s state affairs, as evident from her presence at the meetings of SAD’s core committee, despite not being its member”.
“It was ironical that the very Akalis, who had historically fought to free the gurdwaras from the hereditary control of the mahants (the traditional clergy that had become extremely powerful and ritualised, in the early 20th century) were now being led by a similar hereditary command structure under the Badals.
What is the difference between the heredity promoted by those mahants and Udasis in British India and the Badals, who are openly and brazenly nurturing a similar culture to ensure that the control of the SAD remains with the family,” the ministers asked. They alleged that the SAD “had been clearly reduced to the personal fiefdom of the Badals”.
Harsimrat’s increasing involvement in SAD’s and Punjab’s affairs, even at the “cost of her important work as a Union Minister”, was a clear indication that the rank and file of the party were not happy with the leadership of Sukhbir, the ministers said.
The Akali Dal, the ministers said, has lost all credibility under the “unprincipled, unethical and corrupt leadership” of the Badals, who have “lost all political integrity” and have “cut off the party from the grassroots in order to promote their selfish personal interests”.
The ministers also termed Sukhbir’s recent statements against the Congress government as a frustrated bid to divert attention from the total collapse of the SAD, and his own personal downfall in the face of the growing resentment against him from within the party.
“Sukhbir has been resorting to attacking the Congress government, using lies and fabrications to woo the people of Punjab, who have completely rejected the divisive and destructive SAD, and the leadership of the Badals, in favour of the positive, development-oriented and progressive leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh,” they added.