Shiromani Akali Dal facing existential crisis after MLA goes against directive, boycotts presidential election

One of SAD’s three MLAs, Manpreet Singh Ayali said he could not abide by his party’s decision to vote for BJP’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu as its role was ‘anti-Panth’ and ‘anti-Punjab’

SAD chief Sukhbir Badal with father Parkash Singh Badal (File photo)
SAD chief Sukhbir Badal with father Parkash Singh Badal (File photo)
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Bipin Bhardwaj

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) landed in a crisis after its MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali announced a boycott of the presidential election while it was underway on Monday.

In a Facebook video, Ayali said that he could not abide by his party’s decision to vote for the BJP’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu as the role of the BJP was ‘anti-Panth’ and ‘anti-Punjab’.

He said he had high hopes from the BJP, but even after being in power at the Centre they didn't resolve Punjab's issues. "I don't know if it's selfishness or something else," he added.

On Murmu, Ayali said the Sikh community was not consulted before the nomination. He also questioned the Akali leadership over their support for the ruling party's candidate.

"Listening to the sentiments of the Sikh community, the issues of Punjab, and the voice of my conscience, I am not voting for the candidate of any party in the presidential election today," the MLA from Dakha said.

"Droupadi Murmu comes from a tribal community and I have no issues with her. But even BJP, despite being in the Centre, has not been able to resolve the issues of Punjab, including the release of Sikh prisoners, Punjab's rights over Chandigarh and the issue of Satluj Yamuna Link Canal," he said.

It may be recalled that SAD tasted a humiliating defeat in the 117-member Punjab Assembly election in 2022, getting restricted to just three constituencies.

His revolt has now further challenged SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal's leadership.

In the recent Sangrur Lok Sabha by-poll, the SAD candidate failed miserably, which clearly shows that the party has lost its ground in the state.

The Akali leadership has not reacted to the development so far at the time of going to press.

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