Thursday, August 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CM gets free hand on nominees
PAC meets on Assembly elections
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 8
Playing a political master stroke, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today acquired all powers to select party candidates for the coming Assembly elections in the state.

It means that there will be no parliamentary board of the party to select the candidates. He will be the sole authority to select them.

Mr Badal was empowered to select the candidates by the Political Affairs Committee, which met here this afternoon immediately after a meeting of district jathedars of the party.

Today’s decision will enable Mr Badal to tackle various power centres within the party in a planned manner and show the door to those MLAs and even Ministers whose loyalty had become suspect in his eyes.

Already, his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, has made a number of statements in recent days that 25 per cent of the party ticket will be given to the youth, which means that some of the present MLAs and Ministers of the party will be dropped while renominating candidates for the elections.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC chief, who is also a member of the PAC and is involved in a political feud with the former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, was not present at the meeting. Mr Talwandi seems to be annoyed because of the latest developments in the SGPC and the reported show of strength by Bibi Jagir Kaur, a few days ago at Amritsar, when she went to the Golden Temple accompanied by more than 40 SGPC members.

The PAC took two other important decisions. The authority to negotiate with like-minded parties for entering into any electoral alliance has also been given to Mr Badal by the PAC. He has also been authorised to take disciplinary action against those who have been violating party discipline in the recent past. It appears that Mr Badal is really worried about the growing indiscipline in the party. When asked what action he would take against Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Talwandi, Mr Badal said that he would try to resolve the differences between them. Taking action was not necessary. There were several other ways to restore discipline in the party.

Mr Badal said there was already an electoral alliance with the BJP. Besides, his party was prepared for a tie-up with any other organisation which was committed to defeating the Congress in the state. When asked whether he was also prepared to shake hands with the newly set up Panthic Morcha, Mr Badal did not give a straight reply. In other words, he neither showed any inclination to tie up with the morcha nor ruled out any such possibility.

Quizzed about his party’s understanding with the Bahujan Samaj Morcha, Mr Badal said that he considered the BSM a part of the SAD-BJP coalition in the state.

Mr Badal said that the party was committed to the Moga declaration pertaining to the promotion of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiyat in the state. There was no deviation from this declaration, he added.

When asked about the allegation of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and his associates that Mr Badal and his party were functioning under the influence of the RSS and the BJP, Mr Badal said that only a few months ago Mr Tohra was a part of the SAD and even then the party had a tie-up with the BJP. He said Mr Tohra himself participated in an RSS organised function in Ludhiana. He did not speak against the RSS at that time, Mr Badal quipped.

He announced the holding of political conferences at Bathinda (September 1), Ropar (September 2), Kapurthala (September 5), and Amritsar (September 30).

Asked about his party’s political agenda in the coming elections, Mr Badal said that it would be the achievements of the SAD-BJP government in the past five years and the Congress party’s “ non-contribution” to the state’s development in the past 50 years.

This morning Mr Badal held a meeting with the district presidents of the party and heard their views on the Assembly elections apart from their grievances and complaints.

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