Doing a U-turn, Upkar Singh Sandhu, who had resigned from the primary membership of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and had also quit from the posts of chief of the local urban Akali unit and chairman of the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) a month ago, returned to the party’s fold on Sunday.
Sandhu had left the party on October 24 and held the Punjab government responsible for the unrest after incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.
In a complete turnaround, Sandhu admired the party and its president Sukhbir Singh Badal for efforts in quelling the unrest in the state.
Issuing a statement that certain forces were trying to spoil the atmosphere of the state, Sandhu said, “I was always an Akali and will remain an Akali. The Shiromani Akali Dal, led by its president Sukhbir Singh Badal, has taken various steps in the past few days for infusing confidence among members of the Sikh community that SAD is a party that protects the rights of the Sikhs.”
Naming a few ‘steps’, Sandhu said, “Release of the two innocent persons who were nabbed after the incident of sacrilege at Bargari village in Faridkot, ordering a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the case, registering an FIR against the cops after the police firing, Sukhbir’s visit to the families of the two police firing victims, indicate that the party is committed to setting things right and concerned about the recent incidents in Punjab.”
The Akali leader also slammed the Congress for politicising religious issues and incidents of sacrilege of the holy granth.
Sandhu, whose resignation was followed by more than 50 other party workers quitting the party, returned to the party with most of them.
At the time of his exit, apart from criticising the state government for opening fire on protesting people, Sandhu had also shown annoyance over pardon to the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by the Akal Takht and the suspension of the Panj Pyaras by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
The return of Sandhu is being seen as a breather in party circles, as he had played a vital role in strengthening the urban structure of the party in Amritsar.
He had also been repeatedly raising important issues in the party and confronting the Bharatiya Janata Party local bodies minister Anil Joshi and chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu.
Notably, as soon as Sandhu had left the party last month, the Punjab government had withdrawn his security as well.