source: The Pioneer > Online Edition : >> SAD talent search starts with a bang but ends in whimper CHANDIGARH - Friday, November 27, 2009 SAD talent search starts with a bang but ends in whimper Rajeev Ranjan Roy/Abhijit Pras | Chandigarh What was billed as the dawn of a new culture in the functioning of Shiromani Akali Dal has proved to be a fiasco. The much-hyped talent search programme and daily meeting with workers at the party headquarters in Chandigarh by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal which took off with a flourish has not lived up to its promised potential. Also the party president, his reputation of being people and media-unfriendly preceded him when Sukhbir occupied the Deputy Chief Minister's chair for the second time on August 10 this year. Reports of the junior Badal being unreachable and a 'show-off' had gained credence thanks to the lavish function at Amritsar in January this year when he assumed the office of Deputy Chief Minister for the first time. However, much to the chagrin of his rivals and detractors, Sukhbir took the oath of office and secrecy at a very simple function held at Raj Bhawan in August and proceeded straight to his office in the Punjab Civil Secretariat to assume charge. During the first couple of months, he rarely skipped attending office at the Secretariat. Neither did he miss his daily meetings at the SAD office in Sector 28 with party workers. He also launched a state-wide 'talent hunt' among his party workers to spot talented individuals with a view to provide leadership at the grassroots level. His visits to his constituency Jalalabad, from where he won by-elections in August, were discussed in media circles as he went about inaugurating and laying foundation stones for numerous public utilities and necessities. Badal's decision to organise a brainstorming session and deliberate upon issues confronting his party as well as Punjab in Shimla in September was seen as a correct decision which went down well with party leaders and cadre. These developments were viewed in political quarters as a kind of 'coming-of-age' for Sukhbir Badal, who for long had remained in the shadow of Parkash Singh Badal, his father and Chief Minister. However, all of these initiatives are now a thing of the past. There are no more 'daily' visits to the SAD office to redress grievances of party workers nor is there the enthusiasm of the old in his visits to Jalalabad. Sources within the party are of the opinion that Badal junior seems to have realised that he has too much on his plate. He is making a conscious effort to slow things down. A party functionary, who did not wish to be named, revealed to The Pioneer, "Sukhbir is gearing up for his elevation to the seat of the Chief Minister. He realises that there is so much to do within the party as well as the state." "Right now his priorities are changing everyday as he begins to realise that merely announcing a new initiative would not translate into an equivalent number of votes. These initiatives launched by Sukhbir are now just mere facelifts compared to the complete overhaul that is required." Although Punjab Assembly elections are due in 2012, it seems that Sukhbir Singh Badal has now been forced to consider that he may have to accomplish a lot more than cosmetic changes if he wants his party to retain the seat of power in the next Assembly elections.