The simmering factionalism in the local Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) unit between a group led by those faithful to Satinder Kaur Kariha and family, and those backing the second group led by SAD leader Charanjeet Singh Brar is out in the open with the two groups holding separate meetings and indulging in gamesmanship. Brar is the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
On Monday, Brar along with senior leaders including Balachaur MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Chaudhary Nand Lal, district SAD president Ram Singh Dudhala, SGPC member Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, senior leaders Resham Singh Thiara, district planning committee chairman Dr S K Sukhi, and others held a meeting at the Gurdwara Guru Singh Sabha at Chandigarh Road of the city on Monday. The meeting was organized to hand over appointment letters to around 150 new leaders, but those from the Kariha 'camp' were not present.
As an 'immediate rebuttal', senior SAD leader Satinder Kaur Kariha, along with son-in-law Jagteshwar Singh Majithia and others held their own show of strength at the Raj Palace in Kahma village at Banga-Nawanshahr Road on Tuesday. The programme was again meant to honour the newly-appointed workers, but analysts said the group meant it as a warning for the separate group.
Sources said the battle is to impress the SAD high command for a party ticket in the 2017 assembly polls. This process of separate meetings has been on for quite some time, but this week's developments have taken place at a much larger scale.
Brar has holding weekly sangat darshan programmes on Monday in the office of district zila parishad in city, while the Kariha family has been busy meeting workers in villages.
Brar claimed, "I am working in Nawanshahr and holding meetings with workers and residents on instructions from deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal."
A close aide of the Kariha family, SAD leader Jagteshwar Singh Majithia said, "Satinder Kaur Kariha is the constituency in-charge and we have been serving the area for years."
On the absence of the 'Kariha group' from Monday's meeting, he claimed that they were not invited. Another local leader Mohan Singh Mahal, considered to be with the Kariha group, claimed that people from outside had been involving themselves in the constituency, which was wrong.
To test if the factions had indeed divided the support base, HT questioned Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, who ruled out supporting any group and claimed that they will follow the party line.
I am working in Nawanshahr and holding meetings with workers and residents on instructions from deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Charanjeet Singh Brar, OSD to Sukhbir
People from outside have been involving themselves in the affairs of the constituency. This is not a good practice.
Mohan Singh Mahal, local SAD leader from Kariha group