Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal has started holding one-to-one secret meetings with all MLAs and halqa incharges of his party in view of the next assembly elections.
With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emerging on the political scene of the state, the SAD has started making preparations in advance.
So far, Sukhbir has met 45 MLAs in three sittings on different days of this week, and has given 30 to 45 minutes to each. The next round of meetings will be held next week.
In the closed-door meetings, where not even a single officer or party office-bearer is present, Sukhbir is seeking suggestions from the party’s representatives. Commenting on this, an MLA said the party had started preparing for the polls a bit early accepting that the situation is such and they had no option. The meetings, being kept under wraps, are being held at a guesthouse in SAS Nagar and a group of MLAs and halqa incharges are handpicked every day for these.
“We have aired our grievances to the party president and conveyed to him the pending development works the completion of which would make a difference,” an MLA told HT on condition of anonymity. “The exercise will help the party strategise for the polls,” he said. The MLAs have been asked not to disclose the proceedings of the meetings.
Sources said Sukhbir himself is minutely looking at all issues raised by MLAs and listing out works of each and every constituency. He has also deputed a team to coordinate with government agencies for completion of these development works. Another MLA said it’s a good move as at times it became difficult to raise issues in the presence of other leaders and bureaucrats.
The deputy chief minister is also seeking feedback on the impact of the development works undertaken by the government and as to how they had affected the common man’s life.
Party secretary Daljit Singh Cheema said, “It’s good to have feedback from our representatives. The meetings are related to development and beyond that.” But he refused to comment on the issues “beyond development works”.
Erratic power supply, welfare schemes major issues
Sources said the discrepancy in the disbursement of welfare schemes and erratic power supply in rural areas are two major issues on which the MLAs raised their voice. Some of the MLAs were of the view that the surveys being done by the government to update lists of beneficiaries of welfare schemes, such as old-age and widow pensions, were handed over to junior staff, following which discrepancies cropped up in the lists of beneficiaries.
Party to bring in new faces
The SAD is mulling on bringing in new faces to contest from different constituencies, it is learnt. “Some MLAs and halqa incharges don’t have that good an image among voters, so they won’t contest,” a SAD source said. It was revealed that the party had identified some 35 assembly seats where it would have fresh candidates. The party is also identifying suitable candidates while meeting its representatives.