At a time when Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and members of Parliament (MPs) are facing public wrath over incidents of sacrilege and farmer issues, mobilising the party’s rank and file at the grass-roots level for Sadbhawna rallies is turning out to be a challenging task for them.
The first Sadbhawna rally is scheduled to be held on November 23 in Bathinda, where the SAD expects a gathering of at least one lakh people.
Even on Monday, villagers showed black flags to cabinet minister Sikander Singh Maluka at Poddipur and Ramoowal villages in Rampura constituency.
However, accompanied by police, party MLAs, especially from the rural constituencies, are touring each and every village to appeal to people to ensure their presence in the rallies.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has directed party office-bearers of Bathinda, Faridkot and Mansa districts to make these rallies a success and asked constituency in-charges to bring at least 10,000 people from every constituency.
The beleaguered SAD has designed these rallies following upheaval in the state for the past more than one-and-a-half-month due to a series of incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and repeated farmers’ protests.
However, SAD leaders are doing their best to convince people to attend these rallies during their public meetings in villages. But, due to recent unrest, even Akali workers, most of them farmers, are reluctant to come to these meetings as farmers organisations have also decided not let Akali MLAs and MPs enter the villages.
Cabinet minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon had to skip a public function at Khokhar village here, after a clash between agitated farmers and the police two days ago.
Meanwhile, Malua said they were hopeful of a good show on November 23 since they are getting good response from the people.
“We are making every possible effort to appeal to the people to attend the rally, besides making arrangement for their transportation,” Maluka said.
Asked about protests in villages, Maluka said the success of these rallies will be befitting reply to these protests.
Bathinda (rural) MLA Darshan Singh Kotfatta said the situation in villages was much better than what has been projected by opposition parties.
District BJP units yet to be informed
With six days left for the Sadbhawna rally, district units of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot are yet to be informed by the BJP high command to mobilise their cadres for these rallies.
After meeting Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal last week, state BJP president Kamal Sharma had confirmed BJP’s participation in these rallies.
BJP’s Bathinda district unit president Mohit Gupta said they have no directions from the high command regarding participation in the November 23 rally. “We will mobilize our cadres only after the high command’s direction,” Gupta said.