Ahead of the much talked about "Chintan Shivir" in Goa, the Shiromani Akali Dal president, Sukhbir Singh Badal, on Friday said there was no groupism in the party and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was its only leader.
Paying tribute to the Panth Rattan jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), at a ceremony to mark his ninth death anniversary (which was on April 1), deputy CM Sukhbir said to uproot the Congress from the state, the party would have to strengthen its base.
"There is no place of groupism." he said. "We have only the one leader, Parkash Singh Badal, and he is the tallest." He remembered Tohra's contribution to the party. "Jathedar Tohra was the guiding spirit of the SAD and SGPC, who worked relentlessly along with Badal for the welfare of the state and Sikh Panth. A real tribute to him would be to promote his ideology to strengthen the SAD," said Sukhbir.
Sukhbir's remark suggested that the party would contest the Lok Sabha elections under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal. He has tried to settle the rumours that he might take over the post of the CM after the Goa summit.
In his speech, the CM also remembered jathedar Tohra as "the lighthouse for politicians", reminded the Akali workers that the party was "supreme". "The party gave platform to jathedar Tohra to become Panth Rattan," he said. "Everyone should strengthen the party, as he did."
He also continued his attack against the Congress in the state and its government at the Centre. "To obscure their frustration because of continued defeats that have divided the party, Partap Singh Bajwa and other state Congress leaders are issuing baseless statements," he said. "People reeling under uncontrollable price rise in the country will teach the Congress a lesson in the parliamentary elections."
Parliamentarian Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa; SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar; Tohra's son-in-law, Harmel Singh Tohra; Harmel's son, Harinderpal Singh Tohra; Vidhan Sabha speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, mayor Amrinder Singh Bajaj, and Bibi Kuldeep Kaur Tohra also paid tributes to the former SGPC chief.