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To revive panthic base, SAD to mark foundation day at Golden Temple

The announcement to celebrate the occasion at the Golden Temple was made by party president Sukhbir Badal during a meeting with SGPC members on the eve of the Sikh body’s elections.

punjab Updated: Dec 12, 2017 09:31 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
SAD,Golden Temple,Sukhbir Badal
On Tuesday, Akhand Path of Guru Granth Sahib will be initiated at the Manji Sahib Diwan Hall in the Golden Temple complex and a bhog ceremony will be held on December 14. (HT File)

After facing a rout in the assembly elections earlier this year, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is going to celebrate its foundation day on December 14 at the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, in a bid to revive its panthic stronghold.

SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said the party of late has been organising small functions at its Chandigarh office, but did not organise function on a large scale. The party did not choose Amritsar, its birthplace, as a venue either, he said.

In the 2017 assembly elections, the party could garner only 18 seats while the rookie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got more seats. Also, it got a lukewarm response in constituencies which were traditionally considered its panthic strongholds.

Tarn Taran and Amritsar (rural) were examples of this, where all seats, except Majitha, went to the Congress. The SAD never witnessed such downfall, especially in Sikh-dominated segments.

Sukhbir made announcement on SGPC poll eve

The announcement to celebrate the occasion at the Golden Temple was made by party president Sukhbir Badal during a meeting with Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak (SGPC) members on the eve of the Sikh body’s elections.

On Tuesday, Akhand Path of Guru Granth Sahib will be initiated at the Manji Sahib Diwan Hall in the Golden Temple complex and a bhog ceremony will be held on December 14.

It will be followed by a religious function to be attended by party patron Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and other senior leaders from Punjab and other states.

“This function will be the part of the preparations for the celebrations of the 100th foundation day in 2020. The 100th foundation will be celebrated on a large scale at the Manji Sahib Diwan Hall and the Akali leadership from across the world will participate in it,” Cheema said.

Celebrations in the past

Founded on December 14, 1920, the SAD celebrated its foundation day every year at the Akal Takht till the 1990s.

In 1995, the SAD organised the World Sikh Conference. A year later, it organised a large political conference in Moga to mark its 75th foundation day. During this conference, the party brought major changes in its political agenda such as shunning the purely rightist politics.

In 1997, the SAD under the leadership of Parkash Singh Badal formed government in Punjab in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

‘Party has lost everything’

Political commentators are looking at the move as SAD playing religious card to regain its panthic stronghold.

Even the invitation card sent to religious figures reads that a ‘panthic discussion’ will be held during the function.

“Celebrating the foundation day is a good move, but the party is doing so when it has lost everything and it could not even become the main opposition in the Punjab assembly,” said Manjit Singh Calcutta, an Akali veteran.

“During the past 20 years, the party has been under the dominance of the Badals and its base cannot be revived until inner party democracy is not reinstated,” he said.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 09:08 IST