In an indictment of sorts, a commission set up by Akali Dal to analyze the reasons for her defeat in the last assembly election, without naming the Padal clan, suggested that only one family member be allowed to run in the election. The commission also put the party-led Shiromani Gurdwara Barbandhak in the dock saying it had failed to stop Sikhs’ religious conversions to other faiths, leading to serious political repercussions.
SAD workers feel that there are political implications for the party that the SGPC has not succeeded in stopping Sikh religious conversions to other faiths. The subcommittee felt that the growing culture of Dera and the new trend of enticing Sikh families to remittances should stop. The SGPC, Sikh bodies, Nihang bodies and orators must all come together and play their part in stopping it,” reads the report of the 12-member subcommittee.
His former ally, the BJP, has often raised the issue of Sikh conversion to other faiths, but this is the first time Akali Dal has admitted it was a problem that played a role in spoiling the party’s electoral prospects.
Part of the report, submitted by the committee set up on March 24 and accessed by The Indian Express, also sought to address the issue of dynastic politics in the 100-year-old umbrella party.
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Without naming the pedal, the commission suggested that only one member of one family should be allowed to contest elections for the Assembly, Parliament, the Samiti bloc, the local body, or the Zila Parisad elections. The commission suggested, “If a person wins in any election for a party symbol, no other member of his family shall be permitted to hold any office in any official capacity in the party.”
This may be an indictment of the Badal family. In this year’s assembly elections, the party sent former Prime Minister Parkash Singh Padal of Lambi, his son and party chairman Sukhbir Singh Padal of Jalalabad, son-in-law of Sukhbir Bikram Majethia of Amritsar, and wife of the latter Janiv Kaur of Majetha. All but Ganieve lost.
Sukhbir’s wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, is the Lok Sabha MP from Patinda.
Detailing other reasons behind the party’s defeat in the Vidhan Sabha polls – SAD recorded the worst poll performance ever as it won only three seats in the 117-member parliament; Its previous low was 17 in 2017 polls – the commission noted incidents of sacrilege and subsequent police shootings of peaceful protesters in 2015, the appointment of Sumed Singh Saini as state police chief, and political support for Dera Sacha Suda in the assembly. Opinion polls hurt the sentiments of the Sikh masses. The report reads: “These incidents continue to have a significant impact on the psyche of Sikhs and harm the sentiments of Sikhs.”
The 2015 Barjari sacrilege incidents that were followed by the police shooting of Bhabal Kalan damaged the credibility of the party, which was ruling Punjab, among the Sikh masses and the SSP has yet to recover from the impact.
SAD had appointed Saini to the position of DGP ignoring his controversial past and allegations of human rights abuses against him by Sikh bodies. Prior to the 2017 elections, the party had openly had the support of Dera Sacha Sauda, who was ousted by Akl Takht in 2007.
The committee has now asked the party leadership to request an apology for all these developments.
Such developments created outrage. Then CM Parkash Singh Badal, the then Cabinet members and SAD Chairman Sukhbir Singh Badal and the entire party leadership, as humble Sikhs, should request apologies from the Sikh masses and the Almighty,” the report reads.
The committee also suggested that there should be no overlap in the roles of leaders who look after the affairs of the party, the government, and the affairs of the SGPC.
“Leaders who contest an SGPC election should not be allowed to run in any other state or center election and vice versa. A person selected to represent the SGPC must have an inclusive family and religious profile. No party leader should be allowed to hold any office in the institutions that managed by the SGPC,” the report stated, adding that the SGPC should resolve all issues relating to Sikh priests, Rajis, Dahi, Kavishar, Katahwachaks “and their children should be given reservations for SGPC jobs and fee waivers in SGPC institutions.”