The reality is finally catching up with Punjab deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Renewed focus on zero-tolerance against administrative corruption besides good governance tops his agenda.
The initial hints in this direction came during the two brainstorming sessions Sukhbir Badal held on Monday night and Tuesday with frontline leaders of the party and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) members, followed by with deputy commissioners and district police chiefs. The underlining message was: Pull up your socks, fast.
Dubbed as “feedback sessions” being held over dinner or lunch, the SAD chief kick-started the exercise on Monday evening in which key leaders of the Akali Dal and SGPC members, MLAs, etc from SAS Nagar, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts were present. Tuesday was the turn of Ludhiana district leaders of the party. Every week, two such sessions will be held till all districts are covered. In between, the deputy CM will visit each district to interact with the cadre and booth-level workers to feel the pulse of people.
“The objective of this exercise is to know from the cadre what is happening, perception about the government and what is primarily irritating people so that we can take effective remedial action,” Sukhbir told Hindustan Times. The move is aimed at injecting new energy in the cadre for the next assembly elections scheduled for January-February 2017. As a first step, the SAD is appointing booth-level coordinators after checking their credentials. The party has begun distributing forms to appoint new booth coordinators -- including in urban belts—and a database will be created.
Eye on MC polls
Also, at the core of this strategy is the move to prepare the party for the upcoming local bodies elections where the immediate challenge is from the alliance partner, the BJP.
SAD sources say that in a bid to give fillip to this “feedback exercise”, the deputy CM will go to Ludhiana on November 14 where “300-plus” party workers of the district from booth-level workers to top party cadre, such as MLAs, councillors, SGPC workers and members, will have an opportunity to air their views.
In the first two sessions, the common complaint of the cadre was about alleged corruption in police at “thana level” and at tehsil level in civil administration. The party workers expressed concern over perception of the government taking a beating due to harassment of common people at the hands of tainted officials.
“I also met DCs and SSPs of the districts and asked them to pull up their socks. If they fail to curb the corruption in police stations and in other offices, the SSPs and DCs would be held responsible,” said Sukhbir, who is understood to have asked the SAD cadre to generate material evidence against cops and other officials harassing people and seeking bribes.
The SAD chief is understood to have asked the party leaders to exercise utmost caution while recommending or angling for the transfer and postings of government staff. Sukhbir, sources say, wanted the leaders not to back the tainted officials.
“He wants strict action against any official if the complaint is supported with affidavit,” SAD general secretary Maheshinder Singh Grewal said.