June 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India
Badal, Tohra announce unity
They made the announcement at a joint press conference after one-hour closed-door meeting at the residence of Mr Tohra’s son-in-law Harmel Singh here this morning. Mr Tohra’s loyalist Mahesh Indersingh Garewal and Manjit Singh Calcutta were also present in the house.
The two leaders released the unity statement signed by them amid hugging each other and offering ladoos to openly demonstrate the forging of unity after four years of the estrangement. It is learnt that the unity statement was drafted by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and later released to the media after it was approved by Mr Badal and Mr Tohra.
The two Akali leaders had parted ways in early 1999 after Mr Tohra had suggested to Mr Badal to lighten his burden by appointing an acting president of the SAD so as to devote full time to governing Punjab when Mr Badal was the Chief Minister of the state.
The two leaders said the entire organisational set-up of the united party would be reconstituted from top to bottom, beginning from the Political Affairs Committee and going right down to the circle units of the party after mutual consultations.
The two Akali leaders said: “We proclaim complete unity in the SAD” in keeping with the sentiments of the Sikh community and also in view of the “serious challenges to the Panth (Sikh community) and Punjab.”
Mr Badal and Mr Tohra, while announcing that the united party will contest the coming June 29 panchayat elections jointly, appealed to the party rank and file to “select able candidate through mutual cooperation” and forget the past to work for the glory of the Sikh community.
Elusive quest—a timeline
The following are the significant milestones in the elusive quest for the unity of the Akali Dal:
1980 — Sant Harchand Singh Longowal became the Shiromani Akali Dal president, while the splinter group chose Jagdev Singh Talwandi as its head. This was the time when Gurcharan Singh Tohra joined Parkash Singh Badal and supported Longowal.
1982 — Jagdev Singh Talwandi joined the two, at a call given by the Akal Takht Jathedar to unite for the sake of the panth.
1986 — The Akali Dal again split, with Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Parkash Singh Badal revolting against Surjit Singh Barnala.
1988 — The United Akali Dal split into two. The dominant Badal-Tohra-Talwandi combine elected Jagdev Singh Talwandi as the president of the party.
1990 — The Akali Dal (Mann) split with the formation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic), with Rajdev Singh as its president.
1994 — Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (A), resigned as per the direction of Akal Takht for the sake of unity.
1995 — A formal announcement of the launching of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) headed by Simranjit Singh Mann.
1995 — Baba Joginder Singh formed the United Akali Dal. Talwandi joined the new dal.
1999 — Gurcharan Singh Tohra floated a new party Sarb Hindi Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD). Thus, the split in the ruling Akali Dal was formalised.
1999 — Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann announced the formation of a third front comprising Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Kuldeep Singh Wadala and Jasbir Singh Rode factions of the Akali Dal.
2003 — Badal, Tohra announce unity. Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal and Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra formally announced unity between the two factions.
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