Departure of Taksalis has benefited us, says Sukhbir - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Departure of Taksalis has benefited us, says Sukhbir

Departure of Taksalis has benefited us, says Sukhbir

The Shiromani Akali Dal has faced one of its worst political crises in its recent history. But that has not deterred its president Sukhbir Singh Badal from launching an aggressive political campaign to resurrect his party in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. While his political opponents have yet to venture out, Sukhbir has toured 85 of the 117 Assembly seats and tells The Tribune reporter Ruchika M Khanna that the Akali Dal would surpass everyone’s expectations, and that the sacrilege infamy is behind now. Excerpts of the interview:  

Is the crisis in the Akali Dal over? 

There was no crisis in the Akali Dal. People who left the party  were pushing for their sons into active politics, which was stonewalled by the party leadership as they were no good. Their (Taksali leaders) departure from the party has only benefited us as we have been able to infuse young and fresh talent in the party. 

What are the prospects of SAD in the General Election after the split? 

There was no split in the party. Some people decided to part ways. But let me tell you that we (Akali-BJP combine) will win around 10 seats. As for the “senior leaders” who left us, everyone will know after the elections what they are worth. The fight is with the Congress only. 

Are you going to contest the parliamentary poll, as is being speculated? Sources say that either you or your father will be contesting one seat. 

I can’t say this at the moment. The party will take a final call on this soon.  

When will you declare all candidates for the Lok Sabha elections? 

We have already decided on five of the 10 seats that we will contest, and these candidates have been sounded to start their campaign. The remaining candidates will be announced soon. We still have two months before the polls in Punjab. 

Is the Akali Dal contesting in Haryana independently or are you looking for alliance with BJP? 

We are in talks with several parties, including Haryana Lokhit Party (Gopal Kanda’s party) and Loktantar Suraksha Party (MP Raj Kumar Saini’s party). Some talks have also been initiated with the BJP.  A party committee headed by Balwinder Singh Bhunder will take the final call on this shortly. 

Is there now synchronisation with the BJP, after differences were sorted out?  

We have a perfect relationship with the BJP. Since we do not encroach on the others’ turf, there is no problem. 

Have you managed to win Panthic voters back in the party fold? What impact has the Ranjit Singh panel report and SIT had on your vote base? 

It is wrong to say that the Panthic voters had left Akali Dal. In 2017 election, our vote share was 31%, that of Congress was 38% and of AAP was 21%. Regarding the report and SIT, people of Punjab have seen through the Congress game plan. Capt Amarinder Singh has failed as a Chief Minister and is trying to deflect the attention of people from his government’s non-performance. 

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