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Posted at: Mar 21, 2017, 1:42 AM; last updated: Mar 21, 2017, 1:42 AM (IST)

Defeat: Akalis vent ire on leadership

SAD core committee lists halqa system, deviation from Panthic agenda among reasons

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20

The core committee of the Akali Dal today held a marathon meeting to deliberate upon the reasons that led to the party’s debacle in the state Assembly elections.

The four-hour long meeting reportedly saw almost all leaders blaming the party leadership’s inability to take stock of the situation well in time and resurrect the party although the “failing” health of SAD chief patron Parkash Singh Badal blunted the attack.

Many Akali stalwarts were prepared to blame the party leadership for the worst ever performance of the party (the party got just 15 seats), but Badal began the meeting by saying that he was not keeping well.

Though this did blunt the attack that many of the losing party leaders wanted to make on the party leadership, mainly over diverting from the party’s core Panthic agenda and its style of governance in the past three years. The disconnect with the party cadre was the main resentment of the voters against the party and its candidates. With senior Badal pleading ill-health, most of the 16 members of the core committee (other than the father-son duo) did spell out reasons for the party’s disastrous performance, but refused to blame the “master strategist” directly.

However, close family associates later told The Tribune that the former CM was in good shape. Sources say the leaders who lost the election, Tota Singh and Sikandar Singh Maluka, were among the most vocal leaders.

The party’s poll strategy, orchestrated by Sukhbir, came under sharp attack. Leaders openly blamed the seeking of support from deras (dera culture is not supported by the Sikh tenets) for the core Panthic voters turning away from them. Leaders from Majha said the party was totally disregarded by the Sikhs because of their seeking support from deras, especially Dera Sacha Sauda.

The inability of the party’s government to solve crimes related to desecration of Guru Granth Sahib was also discussed in detail.

The issue of certain Akali leaders’ writ running large in the party’s government (halqa system) was also discussed as was the open rebellion by party MP Sher Singh Ghubaya. Leaders felt that his openly seeking votes for his son, who joined the Congress, should be dealt with firmly and immediately.

The party’s drubbing in the urban areas as well as their alliance partner BJP’s poor performance and the saffron party’s vote share being transferred to the Congress was also raised.

Most of the core committee members, when contacted after the meeting, said they had been made to swear not to talk to the media about the discussions held in the meeting.

Cong resorting to vendetta: SAD

While accepting the verdict of the people, Akali Dal general secertary Harcharan Singh Bains said the party felt that conspiracies were hatched to render Punjabis and Sikhs leaderless by targeting the SAD. The meeting also took strong notice of acts of vendetta and repression against Akali workers by “goons” of the ruling party. The meeting urged the government to cry a halt to such unseemly confrontation as "the Akali Dal will not take such excesses lying down".

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