The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on Wednesday, appointed Sudhir Kumar Bansal as new president of the Bathinda (urban) unit of the party, a move that only surprised the local leaders but also caught Bansal himself unawares.
Bansal, a protégé of local MLA Sarup Chand Singla, was a former staunch Congress worker and joined the SAD in 2009. Interestingly, deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and Singla finalised the name of Sudhir and released a statement on his appointment late Wednesday evening. But, when contacted, Sudhir expressed surprise and said he had no knowledge about his being appointed president.
"I had no idea about this. Who informed you about my appointment, I had neither any talks over it nor I was informed," Sudhir told this correspondent.
However, he later informed that he was yet to get any confirmation from the party. "I had only a hint about it since I am associated with Sarup Singla," he said. Even many other senior SAD leaders were also surprised over his appointment.
Sudhir belonged to a staunch former Congress family since his father Bachan Singh had remained a Congress municipal councillor several times, besides remaining an office-bearer of the local Congress unit.
Sudhir may have been appointed with an eye on the Hindu vote bank in the constituency, but the decision may trigger a rift between the party since Sudhir was not a well known face of the SAD in the city.
Moreover, he was hardly seen in any of the political rallies, and also has limited political involvement in uplifting the party. "We have neither heard his name nor seen him at any of the political events. The decision might have been taken on the recommendation of the local MLA, with whom he has good rapport," said one of the senior leaders.
Sharing the same views, another Akali leader said how can he manage to run the constituency, when veteran leaders do not even know him.
Meanwhile, despite repeated attempts, local MLA Sarup Chand Singla could not be contacted.