Split in AKali Dal: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is heading for an official split with its two rebel heavyweight leaders — Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his son Parminder Singh Dhindsa — approaching the Election Commission for registration of a new political party, Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic). Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa was the leader of Akali Dal in Rajya Sabha before he resigned in October 2019. Parminder Singh Dhindsa followed his footsteps and also resigned from all the party posts in January this year. He was Minister for Finance (2012-2017) and Public Works Minister (2007-2012) in the previous government headed by Parkash Singh Badal.
Parminder Singh blames the working style of party president (Sukhbir Singh Badal) and some of the decisions taken by the party for the split. He says that the leadership has left the “core ideology” of the Akali Dal. Speaking exclusively to Financial Express Online, the former Punjab finance minister referred to many actions of the SAD that culminated in their opting for an exit. “The split had happened 8-9 months back and now we are forming a new party. We have already applied to the Election Commission for the registration of the party – Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic),” Parminder Singh Dhindsa said.
Among the developments that prompted the father and son duo to go for a split are diktats by Akal Takht on Dera Sacha Sauda, calls for forgiving Ram Rahim and inaction in the Bargari sacrilege incident in 2015. “Akali Dal supported abolition of Article 370, Citizenship Amendment Act. We have always stood for the rights of minorities. They initially supported the farm ordinances – these are some of the reasons we left the party,” Dhindsa said.
Parminder Singh, however, informed that so far only two sitting members — he and his father — have resigned from the SAD. Asked about any possible exit from the Akali Dal, Parminder said that he was in touch with many party functionaries from the SAD and Congress who could join Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic). So far, three former ministers, 4-5 MLAs, one former MP and former Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh have joined SAD-D.
The former minister also slammed the SAD leadership for initially supporting the farm bills and said that Harsimrat Kaur resigned only when her party realised that they would lose whatever support and political ground they had left in Punjab. He said that the resignation was not out of free will, but rather under public pressure. “Had she been against the bill from the start and then resigned over the passage, then people would have understood. All along she was backing the government for two months but when they saw the anger of the people who had even threatened that they would not let the leaders enter their home, only then Harsimrat resigned.”
When asked about the reasons the farmers were against the farm bills, Dhindsa said that their biggest fear is that these laws were a precursor to doing away with minimum support price (MSP). He said that if the Centre really wanted to assure the farmers that MSP will be safeguarded, it can easily insert one line in the act. “Tomorrow, they can say that FCI will no longer procure or you can sell to private buyers who will always pay you less than MSP,” the former minister said.