The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) lacked connect with people, its representatives, party workers and jathedars, which reflected in the recent poll results. This realisation dawned on the party on the final day of the three-day post parliamentary polls review programme here on Thursday.
Though the SAD got the same number of seats -- 4 -which it had got in the 2009 polls, its vote share went down by almost 10% that is a cause of worry for the party.
“We will meet our party jathedars who are our eye s and ears, regularly every Wednesday in the party office in Chandigarh, and Mondays and Tuesdays will be dedicated to office work,” deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, who is also the SAD president, announced after the conclusion of the programme, adding that people’s representatives (MLAs) were welcome all three days -- from Monday to Wednesday.
In the review, party workers and leaders alleged that the protocol and seniority were ignored and jathedars were not getting prominence. Also, party workers and leaders at the local level wanted the system of halqa incharge to be dropped and the party structure to be revived, which has been redundant since September 2013 when Sukhbir was re-elected the SAD president.
Sources said the leaders from all districts also asked the president that the Panthic face of the party was gradually being diluted as a number of Hindu faces had been brought into the party fold and they had even got elected as MLAs on SAD ticket.
“The issue came up in the meeting, but only as a passing remark. I told my partymen that the SAD is a party of the entire Punjab,” said Sukhbir, adding that the par ty would continue to work for all communities and religions.
“I accept that there is a general perception in the public that the SAD is giving away the Panthic agenda as there was no big celebration related to the Sikh Panth in the past few years,” the SAD president told HT, adding that he drew the inference from the feedback received.
Sources said it came up in the meeting that the development agenda of the party took a backseat as nobody during the polls listened to the party’s campaign of development and good governance, which the party leadership thought would attract the voters. “We got a beating in the social media.
The issues of drugs and the high prices of sand and g ravel are not as serious as they were shown on the social media, especially during the last week before the polling, and the SAD was unable to curb the ne gative publicity,” said the deputy CM, hinting at launching a campaign of his party and the gover nment on the social media in a big way.
‘AAP CAME AS A VIRUS’
During the poll campaign, the SAD might have been of the view that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) factor would help the poll prospects of their party, but in the poll results review meeting, the SAD leaders came to the conclusion that it was due to AAP that the SAD suffered.
“Had AAP not been there, we would have won 11 seats. But we are not worried, it was a momentary phenomenon like a virus, which would be over by the assembly polls of 2017,” Sukhbir told HT.