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  • Writer's pictureDahlia Foundation

Staring at uphill Punjab task, Sukhbir Badal banks on Panthic unity for SAD revival

On December 14, the 103rd foundation day of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), party president Sukhbir Singh Badal apologised for his then government’s “administrative failures” in the 2015 sacrilege cases.

Another important point that the Akali chief highlighted with his call for reuniting breakaway Akali factions was the idea of Panthic unity.

A united Akali Dal had resurrected the party’s electoral fortunes 20 years ago after Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a senior Akali leader who was then seen as a challenger to Parkash Singh Badal, merged his Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal with Badal Senior’s party in 2003. In the Lok Sabha elections the following year, a united Akali Dal managed to win eight of the 13 seats in the state.

Sukhbir’s call for unity may have stemmed from the 2004 Lok Sabha results. However, the current scenario is different.

In the 2002 Punjab Assembly elections, the Congress led by Captain Amarinder Singh returned to power after 10 years. A united SAD, in alliance with the BJP, in 2007 and 2012 had stormed to power in the state winning 67 and 68 seats respectively.

In the 2022 polls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stormed to power as the Akali Dal was a divided house with splinter groups like Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) in the fray.

“The SAD would have formed the government in 2002 if there was no divide. Though Tohra’s candidates could not win any seats, there were several seats where our candidates lost by thin margins due to division in Akali votes,” senior SAD leader Sikander Singh Maluka told.

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