Punjab deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday asked his party’s leaders to “take a vow” from people who board the SAD’s buses that they would attend the party’s Baisakhi rally at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda on April 14. This is evidently an outcome of the Maghi Mela (fair) fiasco at Mukstar in January when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) not only stole the show but even the people gathered by other parties for their conventions.
“Pindan vich bussan bhej dittian jaan gian, par workers to saunh pawa ke leke auna (Buses will be provided for every village, but bring workers to the rally after making them take the vow),” he said, at a meeting of MLAs, halqa (constituency) in-charges, district presidents and circle in-charges of Faridkot, Bathinda, Muktsar, Mansa, Ferozepur and Fazilka here on Saturday.
“You (office-bearers) have to ensure that the workers first attend the Akali Dal convention before that they go to pay obeisance at Darbar Sahib in Talwandi Sabo. The workers must sit until the last speaker has concluded his speech,” Sukhbir stressed in his address.
He referred to the Maghi Mela too but claimed that people ferried by the SAD from different constituencies “opted to enjoy the fair (mela) instead of attending the rally”. HT had reported how people ferried even by the Congress got off the buses and walked into the AAP venue where Delhi CM Arvin Kejriwal addressed the gathering. The SAD too had lost attendance to the AAP though it had chosen a venue about 7km away.
“We had mobilised and brought the maximum number of people then; but less people attended the rally. Make sure that is not repeated on Baisakhi,” Sukhbir said.
He said due to “it being election year, every party is going to show off its strength during political rallies; but we must make the rally historic by participating in huge numbers”. Asserting that “opposition parties are spreading wrong propaganda among the people”, he said SAD leaders “must clear the picture among people in their respective areas and urge them to come to the rally”.
Whisky swing at Captain’s coffee!
Taking a dig at Punjab Congress’ new initiative ‘Coffee with Captain’ wherein its president Captain Amarinder Singh meets people, deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal remarked in Bathinda on Saturday that the name was wrong: “’Whiskey with Captain’ is more appropriate for the campaign.” He added, “It should be whisky... as Captain saab doesn’t like and drink coffee much.”
Also, Sukhbir said the SAD didn’t need any strategist like Prashant Kishor, who has been hired by Congress, “as the Akali Dal is well aware of the sentiment of the people”. He also targeted Amarinder over the “action” initiated against his son by the Enforcement Directorate in a foreign accounts case. “Amarinder has been completely exposed.”