The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) led by the Badals and the SAD (Amritsar) led by Simranjeet Singh Mann are set to hold political conferences on the occasion of Maghi Mela here on Sunday, even as there are voices against holding such rallies at a religious fair. Other parties are not holding conferences this time. On Saturday, SAD president and former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal visited the venue and examined the arrangements. Senior SAD-BJP leaders, including former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and state BJP president Vijay Sampla, are likely to speak from the stage. On other parties bowing out, Sukhbir said, “Congress and AAP have failed to face the people, so they are making excuses not to hold rallies.” The Maghi Mela is one of Punjab’s major fairs and has religious significance for the Sikhs. It marks the battle of Muktsar in 1705, where 40 Sikh warriors laid down their lives for Guru Gobind Singh while fighting the Mughals. But over the years, it has also become a platform for political rallies.About the appeal of Sikh temporal seat Akal Takht at the time of Shaheedi Jor Mela in Fatehgarh Sahib against such rallies, SAD’s Muktsar MLA Kanwarjit Singh Barkandi said, “The edict for not holding political rallies was only far Fatehgarh Sahib. We are holding the conference here, and arrangements for seating of more than 50,000 people have been made.” Note that Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh had said there was no plan to ban political conferences at this mela.As for the SAD (A), its general secretary Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singh Wala said: “We will discuss religious, political, social and economic issues of Punjab during the rally. We appeal to the people to attend in large numbers.” Notably, the SAD (A) had staged a conference at Fatehgarh Sahib too despite the Akal Takht’s call.When contacted about not holing a rally, Jagdeep Singh Sandhu, AAP’s district unit president, said, “We don’t want the fair, which is held in the memory of Sikh martyrs, to turn into a political battlefield.” Karan Kaur Brar, former Congress MLA from Muktsar, too claimed said, “Congress has taken the initiative not to politicise such religious events.”Meanwhile, members of a group called Dhan Dhan Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee on Saturday protested against the political conferences. Police stopped them outside the city limits where they blocked the road and raised slogans.