‘SAD(A) is trying to fill the void in Panthak politics created by the downfall of SAD (Badal)’.
New Delhi: After winning the Sangrur by-election, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has started to gear up for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee elections and 2024 general elections. This win has rejuvenated the party, which was marginalized for the last two decades. Now, the party has started building the ground cadre in the state and, according to political analysts, SAD(A) is trying to fill the void in “Panthak” politics created by the downfall of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).
Before the Sangrur bypolls, the party had restructured its units and currently, the pro-Khalistan party is focusing on developing a niche in mainstream politics of Punjab. Gagandeep Singh, media secretary of SAD (A), told The Sunday Guardian, “We have divided new circles all around the state and the party has started a membership drive to induct new members into the party.”
According to SAD (A), they have inducted 3,500 new members into the party after Simanjit Singh Mann is elected to Lok Sabha from Sangrur. SAD (A) is thinking of launching a campaign to pressurise the central government to initiate the process for SGPC elections and liberate jailed “Bandi Singh (Sikh prisoners)”.
Sangrur MP and party supremo Simranjit Singh Mann told The Sunday Guardian: “We have started preparing for the SGPC elections. From district level to village level, our cadre has started working. We will rope in other Sikh organizations to overthrow the Badal family’s rule from SGPC.”
The 77-year-old veteran Akali leader surprised many after winning the June bypolls from Sangrur, which was considered the fortress of AAP. The narrow victory of Mann has dented the AAP’s Lok Sabha tally to zero. The Sangrur seat fell vacant after Bhagwant Mann voluntarily gave up his Lok Sabha seat to become Chief Minister. In a neck-to-neck fight with AAP’s Gurmail Singh, Simranjit Singh Mann won by around 5,822 votes.
However, experts believe that it is a hard road ahead for SAD(A) to find a stable position in Punjab politics. Apart from the Khalistan issue, the party does not have solid issues to address the mass voter base in the state. Jaspal Singh, senior journalist and political analyst, told The Sunday Guardian, “SAD (A) only relies on politics of identity, they do not have concrete issues, which will give the right direction to Sikh politics.”
As a parliamentarian, Simranjit Singh Mann has always attracted controversy. Thirty-two years ago in 1990, Simranjit Singh Mann resigned as a member of Lok Sabha after being denied entry with Kirpan.
Last month, Mann took the oath in the Speaker’s office, and several Congress members from Punjab opposed this. The other three new members administered the oath in the Lok Sabha chamber. Recently, Mann landed in a new controversy, after calling freedom fighter Bhagat Singh a “terrorist”. The ruling AAP targeted Mann and called his statement “shameful and pitiful”. After his controversial statement on the revolutionary, Mann stood by his words and defended his statement.
Last week, CM Bhagwant Singh Mann and Rural Development minister Kuldeep Dhaliwal initiated a drive to take possession of illegally encroached 2,828 acres of land in Mohali, the prime property costing around Rs 350 crore.
The name of Sangrur MP’s son Imaanjit Singh Mann also surfaced as one of the encroachers. Imaan Singh rubbished the claims made by the AAP government and said he had bought this land in the early 1990s from local owners and it was never a panchayat land.