Hot Off the Press - Today's NewsPunjab Chief WSN-Politics News-Badal’s Family Planning Minister Badal who has lorded over the ruling Akali Dal for many years now and overseen its transformation from a party wedded to the cause of welfare of the Sikhs to a secularized power-gamed political party in an alliance with a right-wing Hindutva espousing communal force like the RSS-BJP, had been trying to pass on the power-baton to son Sukhbir Singh Badal for many years now.[/font][/size] At around 1:30 in the afternoon, Sukhbir was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab by the Governor of Punjab at Amritsar amidst thousands of party people and virtually the entire leadership of the party. The Indian Constitution has no provision for a Deputy CM, a post often created and designated through a notification as a matter of political convenience. But then nothing much in India or within the Akali Dal gets impacted by any Constitutional niceties. Years earlier, after Sukhbir had returned from abroad, having spent the years in the West when Punjab was going through the dark times and Sikh aspirational struggle was squelched under security personnel’s boots and killed in fake encounters, he was made an MP and then a Union Minister. It mattered little that he could make no claim to being an illustrious minister. Papa CM was always there to make him the party general secretary, and repeatedly an MP. That he was a completely ineffective MP must not be held against it. Name an effective Akali Dal MP? In recent times, as he gained more experience, and Badal Sr.’s hair got more silver, the time for generational shift seemed to be coming near. “If a doctor can make his son a doctor, why can’t a politician make his son a politician?” Badal’s logic had a certain earthiness and no one could dispute that. But Badal was also shrewd enough not to put it as it was: “Why can’t a CM make his son a CM?” But he sure went about it. He is still on the job. Candidly, this time he has declared his intentions too. A grand edifice of an achiever was created around Sukhbir during the last Assembly elections. Huge hoardings, extensive advertising and minions’ statements claimed that but for Sukhbir, Amarinder Singh would have returned to power. Sukhbir-as-messiah was a line senior Akalis gulped, most with a dose of humbled pride and some with ample helpings of humiliation thrown in. There was little time to recall that the late taksali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra had actually been thrown out of the party in the 1998-99 turf war for underlining that all that the Badal wanted was to make Sukhbir the CM. After all, religion is a private matter these days for a party that calls itself “Akali”, sorry, “Shiromani Akali”, unless of course you invite the Badals to some Namdhari dera or Mata Jagrata or Lord Parshuram Temple in the company of some rank secularists like Narendra Modi. Oh yes, Badal did call him too, the Narendra Modi of Gujarat. Or should we say the Modi of Godhra? But let’s stay with the story chronologically. At a meeting of the Core Committee of the Akali Dal (this sham of a panel was also soon to be exposed; after all, can there be a Core outside the Badal’s kitchen of CM-Sukhbir-Harsimrat-Surinder Kaur?), some proactive members of the now famous Haraya Akali Dal (Losers’ party) like Tota Singh and Gurdev Singh Badal, Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Sewa Singh Sekhwan dug their heels in. They said they simply cannot do without a Deputy Chief Minister now, and Sukhbir Singh Badal has to be made the Deputy CM since the government and the party needs him so desperately. No, they would not take NO for an answer, and Sukhbir cannot be kept waiting. He was so essential now. In fact, so important was it for them to raise the demand last Wednesday at the late evening meeting at where else but Badal’s residence that they were brought there in a helicopter from Takhtoopura in southern Punjab. Poor Badal Sahib had little choice but to agree. Reluctantly, did any one say? By next morning, Badal Sr. was in his elements. “Come what may, the party has decided and that decision will not be changed,” he thundered after men like hitherto virtual Deputy CM but actually only Cabinet minister Manoranjan Kalia and BJP state chief Rajendra Bhandari squeaked. The squeaking, however, soon became murmur and then a sort of rebellion. Punjab BJP leaders rushed to Delhi to complain that the Badals have broken coalition dharma, that a junior alliance partner was not taken into confidence, that coalitions normally had Deputy CM-ship for minor partner, that BJP support was crucial to Akali Dal government, that BJP had itself dropped the Number 2 demand, and that the party must not be seen as propagating or encouraging parivarwaad. But since when have proponents of power politics been dissuaded by calls to Dharma? Those who can drag in Lord Ram and raze holy mosques to ground to build upon it a government of the Right, not the righteous, were quick to lay it thick: “Stay silent. We have cleared it all.” But the worse was yet to come. Both, for the BJP as well as for the Akali Dal. All said and done, BJP president Rajnath Singh is a bit of a candid man. With one statement, delivered on prime time TV and repeated ad nauseum to whoever was willing to hear it again, Rajnath Singh spilled the beans that shamed saffron as well as the Family Planners. “Both Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir had come to Delhi some 15 days ago and they had met me and L K Advani ji and we both have cleared the move. They wanted to make Sukhbir the Deputy CM and we said we have no objection.” Poor Badals must have forgotten to tell Rajnath that the visit was to be kept secret. Secret from the people because they were to enact a drama of Akali minions raising the demand in Core Committee. Secret because the Punjab BJP was not to be told beforehand as Rajendra Bhandari is not someone who would gulp parivarwaad. What Rajnath Singh did not say was why did he allowed the Akalis to humiliate the state BJP for a good three days before exposing the Badals? A grateful Badal invited Rajnath Singh, L K Advani, Arun Jaitley, and, please do not be surprised, Narendra Modi to come and witness the ceremony. His son was being crowned as Deputy Chief Minister at a massive public-rally style swearing-in ceremony in Amritsar. Some made it; for others, there will soon be another occasion. After all, this time the demand may come from none other than the Father Family Planner. He has already dropped a broad hint, and more than four times in the last week. “Let the time come, Sukhbir will also become the Chief Minister. Just as the crop takes time to ripen, he too is maturing for larger responsibilities.” The hint was dropped as a bombshell for any senior Akalis, and is a broad and open challenge to the likes of Brahampura, Dhindsas, Kanwaljits and everyone else. But can they really do anything about it? They too have a dream. A dream of their own. They are all Family Planners themselves. So when the next coronation comes, be prepared to read the predictable. Tomorrow’s News Today: Parkash Singh Badal makes sacrifice for the Akali Dal, says he will let Sukhbir take over as CM. But only because the party has insisted so hard. “Jo Kardi Hai Ji, Saadi Party Hee Kardi Hai. Main Kujhh Nahi Karda.” Family Planning Party, of course.