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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Conversions hurt poll prospects, says Akali Dal panel; suggests one family one ticket rule

Without naming the Badals, the committee has suggested that only one member from one family should be allowed to contest either of the Assembly, parliamentary, block samiti, local body or zila parishad election.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: May 28, 2022 9:17:30 am
From Left: Shiromani Aakali dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann, and former DSGMC chiefs Manjeet Singh GK and Paramjit Singh Sarna at Teja Singh Samudari Hall at the SGPC headquarters. Image/Officeofssbadal)

In an indictment of sorts, a committee formed by the Akali Dal to analyse reasons for its rout in the recent Assembly election has, without naming the Badal clan, suggested that only one person from a family be allowed to contest polls. The panel also put the party-led Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in dock saying that it has has failed in stopping the religious conversions of Sikhs into other faiths leading to serious political implications.

“The SAD workers feel that there are political implications for the party as the SGPC has been unsuccessful in stopping the religious conversions of Sikhs into other faiths. The sub-committee felt that the increasing Dera culture and the new trend of luring the Sikh families for conversions is needed to be stopped. The SGPC, Sikh bodies, Nihang bodies, preachers all should come together and play their role in stopping it,” reads the report of the 12-member sub-committee.

Its former ally the Bhartiya Janata Party has often raised the issue of conversion of Sikhs into other faiths, but it is for the first time that Akali Dal has acknowledged it as a problem that played a role in scuttling the party’s electoral chances.

A part of the report, submitted by the panel that was formed on march 24, and accessed by The Indian Express also sought to address the issue of dynasty politics in the 100-year-old panthic party.

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Without naming the Badals, the committee has suggested that only one member from one family should be allowed to contest either of the Assembly, parliamentary, block samiti, local body or zila parishad election. “If a person has won any election on the party symbol, then no other member from his family should be allowed to take any position in any official capacity in the party,” the committee suggested.

This may come as an indictment for the Badal family. In this year’s Assembly polls, the party had fielded former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi, his son and party president Sukhbir Singh Badal from Jalalbad, Sukhbir’s brother-in-law Bikram Majithia from Amritsar, and latter’s wife Ganieve Kaur from Majitha. All barring Ganieve lost.

Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal is Lok Sabha MP from Bathinda.

Detailing the other reasons behind party’s rout in the Vidhan Sabha polls — SAD registered its worst-ever poll performance winning only three seats in the 117-member Assembly; its previous low was 17 in 2017 polls — the committee pointed out that the the incidents of sacrilege and subsequent police firing on peaceful protesters in 2015, the appointment of Sumedh Singh Saini as state police chief, and the political support of Dera Sacha Sauda in Assembly polls has hurt the sentiments of the Sikh masses. “These incidents still has great impact on Sikh psyche and it hurt Sikh sentiments,” reads the report.

The 2015 Bargari sacrilege incidents followed by the police firing at Behbal Kalan had hurt the credibility of the party, which was ruling Puinjab, among the Sikh masses and the SAD is yet to recover from the impact.

SAD had appointed Saini as DGP ignoring his controversial past and allegations of human rights violations against him by Sikh bodies. Ahead of the 2017 elections, the party had openly took the support of Dera Sacha Sauda, which was excommunicated by Akal Takht in 2007.

The committee has now asked party leadership to seek apology for all these developments.

“Such developments has created a heavy anger. Then CM Parkash Singh Badal, the then Cabinet members, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and the whole party leadership, as humble Sikhs, should seek apology from the almighty and the Sikh masses,” reads the report.

The panel also suggested that there shouldn’t be any overlapping in the roles of leaders looking after party, government, and the SGPC affairs.

“The leaders, who contest the SGPC elections shouldn’t be allowed to contest any other election in the state or at Centre and vice-versa. One who is selected for representing SGPC should have a panthic family and religious profile. No party leader should be allowed to hold any position in SGPC-run institutions,” mentioned the report, adding that SGPC should resolve all the issues related to Sikh priests, Raggis, Dhadhi, Kavishar, Ktahwachak “and their children should be given reservations in the SGPC jobs and exemption in fee at SGPC institutions”.

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