Punjab elections 2022: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) losing ground in the state

Factionalism is common element of every political party in India. Though this feature has influenced every political party across country, SAD, religion-based party of Punjab, is the most crushed one

Punjab elections 2022: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) losing ground in the state

Bipin Bhardwaj

Factionalism is a common element of every political party in India. Though this regular feature has influenced every political party (National or Regional) across the country, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a religion based regional political party of Punjab, is the most crushed one.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) that completed its 100 years of existence on December 14, 2020, has a history of frequent and strong factionalism. During its journey of one century, the SAD has been faction-ridden and different factions have formed new political outfits after separation.

The downfall of the so-called great grand party -SAD- started when its supremo Parkash Singh Badal handed over its command to his son Sukhbir Singh Badal in January 2008 ignoring other senior leaders who had been nurturing Akali Dal for decades.

The resentment that had been simmering among the ignored finally turned into revolt among the party after Sukhbir was re-elected SAD chief in September 2013.

Captain Kanwaljit Singh, the senior most Akali leader and General Secretary of SAD, had raised voice against this. Unfortunately, the most respected and honest politician died in a major road accident near the Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway in Kharar on March 29, 2009.

Following differences with his cousin brother Sukhbir Singh Badal, another able Akali leader Manpreet Singh Badal, finance minister in Parkash Singh Badal government in 2007, quit the party in October 2010. In 2011, Manpreet formed a new political party called People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) and in the 2012 Punjab elections, PPP entered a political alliance with CPI, CPM and SAD (Longowal). As a Chief Minister, Badal contested the elections from the Gidderbaha and Maur assembly constituencies but lost from both seats.

Manpreet merged PPP with the Congress in January 2016.

Unhappy with Sukhbir Singh Badal’s style of functioning and disrespect to the senior Akali leaders, in July 2020 more senior leaders including Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Sewa Singh Sekhwan quit the SAD.

Like former Lok Sabha Member Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who floated Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali), Dhindsa clan floated new political outfit named Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic). Dhindsa was elected the new president of the SAD (Democratic).

Later he joined hands with former Lok Sabha Member Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who floated Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali).

With an aim to contest 2022 elections, the SAD (Democratic) and SAD Taksali merged to form Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukat).

Interestingly, Brahmpura re-joined SAD (Badal) after differences with Dhindsa who decided to be a political partner with the BJP and Punjab Lok Congress (PLC), a new political party floated by former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh after he was shown the door by the Congress.

Now the SAD has suffered another setback with its senior leader Bikram Singh Majithia booked in the drug smuggling case by the Punjab Police. A former cabinet minister in Parkash Singh Badal led-SAD-BJP government, Majithia is Sukhbir Singh Badal's brother-in-law and brother of former Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and plays a key role in the party.

The SAD was rooted out from Punjab in 2017 Assembly elections when it was dogged by instances of sacrilege and widespread drug trafficking during its 10-year tenure. Under the presidency of Sukhbir Singh Badal the SAD’s performance was the worst in the 2017 Assembly polls, and it was restricted to only 15 out of the 117 seats.

After breaking its ties with the BJP over three Farms Laws, the SAD, with an eye on the Dalit votes, has now tied up with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which is contesting on 20 seats.

Apprehending a bitter defeat in the 2022 Assembly elections, SAD leadership went soft towards its previous political partner the BJP soon after the incident of PM Modi's security breach in Ferozepur district of Punjab.

Political pundits are of the view that the SAD may support the BJP from outside if the saffron party along with its allies emerges the single largest alliance in this election.

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