Chandigarh: With pressure mounting following a few resignations from party posts by senior leaders, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal said on Sunday, October 28, that he was ready to quit as the party chief if the party wanted him to do so.
Talking to the media after offering prayers at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Badal indicated that the disgruntled senior leaders will be approached soon to resolve the stand-off within the party.
The SAD, which ruled Punjab in alliance with the BJP from 2007 to 2017, is facing an internal crisis for the past one month following resignations from party posts by senior leaders who are challenging the manner in which Sukhbir Badal is leading the party.
Among those who have resigned include former union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former MP Rattan Singh Ajnala and former Ministers Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Sewa Singh Sekhwan.
The senior leaders have virtually raised a banner of revolt against the style of functioning of Sukhbir Badal and his brother-in-law and legislator Bikram Singh Majithia. Both take all important decisions in the party.
“It is my duty to do whatever the party wants. I am ready to quit if the party wants so,” Sukhbir said.
The senior leaders are upset that the party, under Sukhbir Badal’s leadership, got the Akal Takht to pardon controversial godman and Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who has been convicted in two cases of rape and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
They have also objected to the handling of the cases of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 by the SAD government which led to protests by Sikh organizations and resulted in two men being killed in police firing in October 2015.
An inquiry commission into the sacrilege cases protests had recently held the police under the SAD regime responsible for the firing.
The senior leaders accuse the Badal family, including five-time former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, of running the Akali Dal like a family company.
The SAD, set up in 1920, is the second oldest party in the country after the Congress.
Badal Senior, who is over 90 years old, had passed the reins of the party to his son Sukhbir in 2009, bypassing the seniority of other party leaders.