Infighting between two senior Akali leaders hailing from this industrial town has once again put the inauguration of Shiv Kumar Batalvi auditorium here on hold. The jinxed auditorium is lying incomplete from the last three-and-a-half decades.
Pertinently, both the senior Akali leaders, Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, have high political stakes in Batala. They want to eke out political mileage from the completion of this world-class auditorium and their differences are delaying the inauguration.
Though the construction of the auditorium was completed four months ago but due to non-availability of any political personality, the inauguration is put off time and again. On Friday, a meeting of Shiv Kumar Batalvi Art and Cultural Society was held under the chairmanship of Gurdaspur deputy commissioner Abhinav Trikha. Former minister and society patron Sewa Singh Sekhwan and other members decided to hold a function on December 1, inviting deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to inaugurate the auditorium.
Phone calls were made to sufi singers Gurdas Mann, Hans Raj Hans, Wadali brothers and various other artists by Sekhwan. Even the list of persons to whom mementoes will be given was also prepared. As soon as Sekhwan left the venue after announcing the entire programme in front of mediapersons, former Qadian MLA and Batala halqa in-charge, Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, reached the spot along with his supporters and asked the DC to postpone the inauguration ceremony as he would be busy at the Sadbhawna rally scheduled to be held in Gurdaspur on December 1.
Talking to HT, SS Nijjar, president of Shiv Kumar Batalvi Art and Cultural Society, said that on Friday, he got a call from Sekhwan to inform him that inauguration of this world-class auditorium will be done by deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal at 3.30pm on December 1. Sekhwan also asked Nijjar to come to the auditorium for deliberating on the programme.
“I, along with other society members, reached the auditorium and collectively planned the entire function. But as we left the auditorium, I got a call from Sekhwan who told me that the inauguration had been postponed till further notice,” said Nijjar.