The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) think tank will go into a huddle on Saturday here to discuss a host of political issues in what will be the first brainstorming session of the party after the February 4 assembly polls, results of which will be out on March 11.
Deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal will chair the core committee meeting at his official residence in Chandigarh in the absence of party patriarch and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is on a week-long visit to US for a medical check-up.
This meeting will be held in the shadow of SAD leaders prostrating before the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for support in the assembly elections. It is understood that chalking out a strategy to deal with the SAD-dera bonhomie is likely to dominate the meeting.
The dera’s open support to SAD, and the Malwa leaders of the party reciprocating with assurance to facilitate congregations of the controversial ‘godman’ in Punjab, in defiance of the Sikhs’ highest temporal seat the Akal Takht’s 2007 boycott edict, had caused ripples in Sikh Panthic circles. The dera head last held a ‘satsang’ — religious assembly of his followers — in Punjab in May 2007 at Salabtpura village in Bathinda, where he courted controversy by wearing attire allegedly similar to that of Guru Gobind Singh.
The Sikhs were enraged and violence had erupted in different parts of state between Sikhs and dera followers after that. The Akal Takht then issued a ‘hukamnama’ (edict) against the dera head accusing him of blasphemy and directed the Sikhs for his social boycott.
The SAD’s poll-centric union with the sect has also enraged the Akal Takht, which has sought a report from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
An immediate worry of the SAD is that its politically motivated bonding with the dera head is becoming an emotive issue in the run-up to February 26 Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managament Committee (DSGMC) elections. At present, the SAD (Badal) controls the DSGMC.
Paramjit Singh Sarna-led SAD (Delhi) and the Aam Aadmi Party-supported Panthic Sewa Dal (PSD) are exploiting to the hilt the SAD violating the Takht’s direction.
“The meeting has been specifically called to discuss DSGMC election and to assign the duties to leaders. Since we will meet for the first time after the assembly election polling, other related issues will also be discussed,” Daljit Singh Cheema, the SAD spokesperson, said.