With no previous membership record of its youth wing Youth Akali Dal (YAD) available with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the organisation started a statewide membership drive from Bathinda on Wednesday, literally from scratch.
The move is part of a statewide membership drive simultaneously from all five zones across Punjab. Deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Badal, while launching the membership campaign of the party’s youth wing, said the campaign had been named as “Proud to be an Akali” aimed at inducting young blood in the party.
Aware of the bad name some notorious people had brought to the YAD by indulging in criminal activities in the past, Sukhbir said anyone going to enroll himself in the organisation would have to submit a self-declaration that he was not involved in any criminal activity.
Sukhbir’s concern for this was also visible in his address when he asked the YAD gathering that they must ensure that they did not get involved in any unlawful activity.
When asked about the previous membership record of the organisation, Sukhbir said they had no authentic data or any reference to show the previous membership, so the campaign was more important.
Interestingly, Sukhbir himself had remained as patron of the YAD while his brother-inlaw and Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia had served as president of the organisation for years. Despite this, the organisation has no record to show its membership.
Sukhbir said some political parties indulged in drama over the membership campaigns, making claims about the number of members enrolled but the YAD membership campaign was no drama, so no target had been set.
He said the membership drive is to strengthen the SAD and not for show-off, as a person getting enrolled would be instantly provided an identity card and the entire membership record and the member’s credentials would be available on the website. YAD teams would visit villages and towns for the campaign while a team of professionals would maintain the record on a computer and issue the identity cards.
Higher education minister Surjit Singh Rakhra and district president of Shiromani Akali Dal Deepinder Singh Dhillon inaugurated the membership drive in Patiala. Harpal Juneja, president of YAD, Malwa zone II, said more than 3,000 youth joined the wing, which would boost the party to promote its policies and to build its cadre at the ground level.
The membership drive for the Majha zone, which comprises four districts -- Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Pathankot -- was launched together by revenue minister Bikram Majithia and Youth Akali Dal incharge of the zone Inderbir Bolaria.
When asked if the drive is an answer to the BJP’s membership drive, Majithia said, “Both SAD and the BJP have close ties. If their membership has grown, we are happy. We are a different party and this drive just aims to expand the base further.
(With inputs from Aseem Bassi and Navrajdeep Singh)