On day two, Sukhbir hints at doing away with system of halqas in-charge

  • Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jun 05, 2014 00:03 IST

Realising that the system of halqas in-charge adopted by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for the past some time has boomeranged, party president Sukhbir Badal on Wednesday announced that the party structure at the district level would soon be revived.

"The announcement will come this month," Sukhbir said, before beginning the second day's session of the three-day post-poll result review programme.

Mostly 'halqas' in-charge are the SAD leaders who have lost the assembly elections but are designated as extra-constitutional power centres as part of the deputy chief minister's politically ambitious move to empower the Akali leaders even in constituencies represented by the opposition MLAs. The local administration has unofficial directions to listen to and do bidding of only all-powerful halqas in-charge in all matters of fund allocations, local development projects, postings and transfers, and even FIR registration.

The party has named the review programme as 'Target 2017 assembly polls' and during the two days the party leaders were vocal against the system, alleging that it had disturbed the party's hierarchy and seniority.

The SAD got into the thinking mode after there was a considerable fall in the party's vote share in the parliamentary polls and the party's perception among people is also at its lowest ebb.

Sukhbir said his party and government would work for the common man and come up to their expectations. "The government's role is to work for people and change the policies in case they do not suit the common man," he said.

On Tuesday, when Sukhbir had heard the leaders and workers of eight districts of Malwa, it was the general grievance that instead of banking on halqas (assembly constituencies) in-charge for taking party policies down to the cadres, the local-level party structures be revived.

After Sukhbir was re-elected as the SAD president in September 2013, the party structure was dismantled in order to be revived soon, but instead of naming office-bearers the party ran the show depending on halqas in-charge much to the displeasure of everyone else in the party.

On Wednesday, Sukhbir had called leaders from Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Amritsar and Tarn Taran. Interestingly, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia who represents Majha, especially Amritsar, was conspicuous by his absence. The newly elected Tarn Taran MP Ranjit Singh Brahmpura was also not present at the meeting. SAD sources said he was attending the opening session of Parliament.

In the two days of the review meeting, as the issue of drug menace was raised by SAD leaders and workers, Sukhbir said the government would take action against drug peddlers, wholesalers and also police officials. "No leader or office-bearer should come in support of or try to shield the culprits," the SAD president told his partymen.

'Haven't contradicted what I said'
In light of the recent remarks by Punjab BJP chief Kamal Sharma, Sukhbir on Wednesday said the SAD-BJP coalition was running smoothly and that the BJP had no issues with the government and the SAD.

Reacting to Sukhbir's remark, Sharma later said, "I have not contradicted what I said in the past." He said he had met Sukhbir on Wednesday on the issue of civic body polls, but the BJP's issues with the SAD and the government remained.

Sharma had earlier said that the drug trade in the state was flourishing with the government patronage and the government needed to shed the mafia tag.

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