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Senior Akali leaders kept mum when Badals faced Congress, AAP onslaught

Displaying unusual bonhomie, the two parties blamed SAD, which ran a coalition government with the BJP from 2007 to 2017.

punjab Updated: Aug 30, 2018 20:51 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Badal,Akali,Congress
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal(HT Photo)

The seven-hour-long debate in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday on Justice Ranjit Singh commission report saw legislators of the Congress and the Aam aadmi party (AAP) targeting former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, for all problems in the state.

The two parties, which displayed unusual bonhomie, blamed the SAD, which ran a coalition government with the BJP in Punjab from 2007 to 2017, for just about everything, from sacrilege and firing to military and operation Bluestar.

A rattled Sukhbir said the two parties of trying to make Sikh panth leaderless.

“They want to take control of our institutions. We will not let this happen. The debate was turned into a joint political rally of Congress and AAP,” he said on Tuesday evening after being accused of pushing the state in ruins in the last 10 years.

The Akalis had stayed away from the debate for which two hours were fixed initially with only 14 minutes for their MLAs in proportion to their strength in the 117-member House. “Had we taken part, the debate time would never have been increased,” claimed an Akali MLA, requesting anonymity.

The decision was apparently prompted by the realisation that Badals would be the primary targets. Badal senior did not attend the session from the start as he was unwell. Before the assembly session, slogans were raised against the two Badals when hardliners attacked DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK in New York and California. At the Sikhs for Justice meeting at Trafalgar Square in London on August 12 to build support for ‘Referendum 2020’, they were the prime target and blamed for sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.

However, other party leaders, including Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Prem Singh Chandumajra, not only escaped unscathed, they also maintained silence. They did not vociferously defend the top leaders when they were targeted from all sides by the Congress, AAP and the hardliners.

“The entire debate was to defame Badals who were targeted because they held top posts in the government. What could have I said on the issue?” asked Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Chandumajra said the party’s core committee will met Thursday and announce the future course of action. “The assembly speaker should have acted to stop the unparliamentary debate,” he added.

In the absence of senior leaders, the party’s second-rung leaders such as former speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon, who held a press conference in Amritsar, and ex-MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha came out in their defence.

Though Sukhbir had former ministers, Bikram Majithia and Parminder Singh Dhindsa, by his side while devising the party strategy, the party failed to counter the onslaught.

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 09:57 IST