In revival bid, SAD unveils new-look core committee, forms advisory board
To placate senior SAD leadership and resuscitate the party, the 34 leaders inducted into the two bodies are a mix of old guard and young blood from a cross section of society
In a move to strengthen his grip over the party, particularly after its victory in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) election on November 9 that proved a breather for him, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday set up an eight-member advisory board and reconstituted the core committee, the party’s top decision-making body.
To placate senior leadership and resuscitate the party, the 34 leaders inducted into the two bodies are a mix of old guard and young blood from a cross section of society. With three Hindu faces, two women and representation for scheduled castes and backward classes, the bodies’ structure, according to a senior leader, will infuse new life into the party, which has been pushed to the sidelines owing to two consecutive defeats in the 2017 and 2022 assembly polls.
Senior Badal to continue as chief patron
As per the announcement, SAD will continue to have party’s patriarch and five-time Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on the top of the hierarchy as chief patron and senior-most leader after him, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, as a patron.
The advisory board has been constituted for the first time as an effort to show that the party is set for a change and also takes along senior leadership, after facing criticism that all decisions were taken unilaterally and without larger consultations.
Senior leaders named to advisory board
In August, Sukhbir had announced to form two advisory panels, comprising party seniors and other intellectuals, to guide him in running the party show.
Among the senior leaders named to the advisory board are former Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Kirpal Singh Badungar and former minister Bibi Upinderjit Kaur.
Other members in the board are former Lok Sabha MP Varinder Singh Bajwa, former minister Baldev Singh Mann, former MLAs Parkash Chand Garg and Vir Singh Lopoke, and former Markfed chairman Jarnail Singh Wahid.
15 new names in core committee
In a drastic change in the party, signaling a course correction, 15 new faces have been added in the 26-member core committee. Jagmeet Brar, who faces disciplinary action for his suggestions about the presidentship, has been moved out of the top committee.
For the first time, three members have added by their post – the SGPC president and heads of two frontal bodies, Istri Akali Dal and Youth Akali Dal.
Also, in a first, two members have been included as special invitees for the first time – former Rajya Sabha member Naresh Gujral and party’s Delhi unit head Paramjit Singh Sarna, who last month merged his party into the Badals-led SAD.
They will be invited to attend the meeting on special matters and will look after party matters in New Delhi.
The party had lost its majority in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee last year when its president Manjinder Singh Sirsa joined the BJP, leaving SAD and also took along Harmeet Singh Kalka to head the gurdwara body.
The core committee also has former Rajya Sabha member Balwinder Singh Bhunder, former Lok Sabha MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, and former ministers Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal Gulzar Singh Ranike, Sikandar Singh Maluka, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Anil Joshi, Daljit Singh Cheema, Sharaniit Singh Dhillon, Bikram Singh Majithia, Surjit Singh Rakhra and Hira Singh Gabria.
The new faces added include sitting MLA Dr Sukhwinder Sukhi, former MLAs NK Sharma, Iqbal Singh Jhoondan, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, Pawan Kumar Tinu, Virsa Singh Valtoha, Gurbachan Singh Babehali and Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, and Sunita Chaudhary. Anil Joshi, who joined the SAD quitting the BJP, is also a fresh face in the top body.
Three elevated from core panel to advisory board
Charanjit Singh Atwal, Bibi Upinderjit Kaur and Baldev Singh Mann, who were in the core committee earlier, have been elevated to the advisory board and Brahmpura has been taken as party’s patron. Atwal and Kaur were critical of Sukhbir, and their promotion to the advisory panel comes as evidence of change in party’s thinking process at the top level.
Earlier in July, Sukhbir had dismantled the party structure and all frontal bodies, following a report by the Jhoondan committee, formed to suggest a course correction post the party’s poor show in the 2022 assembly polls, where it could win only three seats. The party is expected to announce office-bearers of the party and frontal bodies shortly.