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Sukhbir survives rebel crisis, tough task to revive SAD

But the greater challenge for Sukhbir still exists and that is the revival of his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal. That challenge was there before the rebellion and that challenge will continue even after the rebellion will die down, which eventually it will.

News Arena Network - Chandigarh - UPDATED: July 4, 2024, 08:18 AM - 6 mins read

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Sukhbir survives rebel crisis, tough task to revive SAD

Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal.


Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal has managed to survive the crisis triggered by some rebel senior leaders. That, in fact, was a foregone conclusion even when the rebellion started. None of the rebel leaders has the stature to outdo Sukhbir. 

 

Within the existing structure of the party, there can be no serious challenge, leaving aside any threat, to Sukhbir’s leadership. Most of those who have rebelled against him, have hardly any popular base and are too much dependent on the party support.

 

But the greater challenge for Sukhbir still exists and that is the revival of his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal. That challenge was there before the rebellion and that challenge will continue even after the rebellion will die down, which eventually it will.

 

Sukhbir has on its side the all-powerful Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and also the Akal Takaht Jathedar, who is appointed by the SGPC. 

 

He has a team of senior leaders with him, which includes, Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Paramjit Singh Sarna, Daljeet Cheema, his brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia, one of the most powerful and promising leaders of the party.

 

Compared to that, those who are opposed to him, have rebelled earlier also like Bibi Jagir Kaur and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his son. The new entrants into the rebels’ ranks include Surjeet Singh Rakhra, whose rebellion seemed strange given his proximity with the Badal family, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Sikander Singh Maluka, whose son and daughter-in-law are already in the BJP, and Gurpartap Singh Wadala. 

 

All these leaders do have their respective support pockets. But they can be impactful and influential only along with the Akali Dal and not without it. 

 

Manpreet Singh Ayali, the Dakha legislator, who had also demanded implementation of the Iqbal Singh Jhundan committee recommendations, which means replacing Sukhbir Singh Badal, has maintained equal distance from both Sukhbir as well as the rebels.

 

The rebels do not seem to have any concrete alternative programme to revive the party. They assume that the public anger against the Shiromani Akali Dal is exclusively because of Sukhbir Badal. That is not the case.

 

Sukhbir’s leadership is only one of the reasons. His removal will certainly not instantly revive the party as long as there is not an influential alternative available. Rather that has the potential of completely imploding the Akali Dal, which will be disastrous for Punjab.

 

Former Akal Takhat acting Jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh has volunteered himself, in a subtle way though, to lead the party. He has started believing himself to fit in the role that the rebels suggested as he considers himself both as a scholar and a political leader. Leading an organisation like the Shiromani Akali Dal will need much more than a PhD degree in religious studies.

 

Sukhbir is trapped in a serious dilemma. He realises that his party’s revival cannot be possible without external support. He and before him, his father could retain control over the party as they had a friendly ally in BJP with them. 

 

Right now, Sukhbir does not have any allies. He is surrounded by certain people, like Sarna, who have always been opposed to the BJP. Sarna is known for his proximity with the Congress leadership. 

 

It is also a fact that the Akalis do not have anything against the BJP. Nor does the BJP carry any baggage that should make the Akali Dal defensive. Yes, there has been a narrative built up in Punjab against the BJP during and in the aftermath of the farmers’ stir.

 

It was partially the failure of the Akali Dal that led the situation to aggravate to such a level. Akali leadership caved into the pressure of those who have always been opposed to the BJP and that too without any apparent reason. Rather, the BJP has done certain things for the Sikh community no other party has done. 

 

Had the Akali Dal aligned with the BJP in the 2024 General Elections, they would have together won between six to eight seats. This would have provided much-needed redemption for the party. And of course, there would not have been any rebellion.

 

Sukhbir will need to weigh his options, although he has very limited (options). And rapprochement with the BJP can certainly be one of them. He should stop leaders like his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Sarna from blaming the BJP for the rebellion. He should reassess and rethink who were the people who prevented an alliance with the BJP. Maybe those same people are still trying to create a situation where a rapprochement will be out of the question.

 

The revival and strengthening of the Akali Dal is not only in the interest of Punjab but also in the interest of the country. If the Akali Dal gets weakened, the panthic space will be occupied by radicals and extremists. Khadoor Sahib and Faridkot election results are an indication. 

 

The BJP leadership will also need to rethink and reconsider its approach towards its former ally, which has been most trustworthy and least troublesome and has never made any undue or unreasonable demands. 

 

It is good that Sukhbir survived the rebellion, which he would have survived anyway. It would be better if he starts and succeeds in reviving the Shiromani Akali Dal. Once the process starts, things will start falling in line immediately. 

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