Sikh News Sukhbir Badal Is Acting President Of Akali Dal

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Jan 7, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Final Move: Sukhbir Badal is acting president of Akali Dal Written by WSN Bureau Sunday, March 11, 2007

CHANDIGARH: The brat-turned-politician-turned-parallel power centre in the Akali polity, Sukhbir Singh Badal, was today declared the ‘acting president’ of the Shiromani Akali Dal after a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) chose CM Parkash Singh Badal's only son for the top job.

Badal, who is also president of the Akali Dal, himself presided over the meeting. Sukhbir, popularly called "Junior Badal Sahib" by the second rung leaders and workers and "Kaka ji" by those with a closer rapport, was recommended "because of his great work in campaigning and inducing a new life into the party."

Sukhbir is sitting MP of Lok Sabha from Faridkot.
Badal took extra care to stress that it was not him but rather the PAC which has taken the decision but did not say whether he had tried to prevail upon the PAC for a different choice. "Eh mera faisla nahi hai ji, eh ta PAC da faisla hai," the 80-year-old Badal, now a four-time CM, said, apparently in the hope that the ever so sceptical media corps will believe him. Going by how little the media grilled him, Badal seemed to have made the correct appreciation about scribe team.

Badal said that after becoming chief minister he was not able to devote enough time to running the party affairs. Senior Akali leader Ranjit Singh Brahmpura proposed the name of Sukhbir Badal while Gurdev Singh Badal (no kin of CM Badal) and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa seconded it.

Sukhbir has been widely perceived as having already commandeered the party, pushing aside many senior leaders, and has been projected as an architect of the party’s recent return to power.

Seen at 44 as young, brash and effervescent, Sukhbir is famous for his sharp tongue – he used to refer to then CM Amarinder Singh as ‘hankaari raja’ – and drives around in a Mitsubishi Pajero in a cavalcade of siren blazing cars, holds dinners for journalists at upscale hotels and frequently referred to as the 'super CM'. Recently, a number of stories appeared in the media projecting the notion that Sukhbir has changed a lot over the last five years - becoming milder, mature and politically correct. There are no prizes for guessing the source for such perceptive analysis of Sukhbir.

He certainly has shunned the traditional image of Akali Dal being a party of 'jathedars' (Sikh clergymen) with flowing white beards, though he had to make some concession in 1999 by sporting a flowing beard himself. It is anyone’s guess how much his sculptor's skills - his profile mentions having won a north-zone clay modelling competition once – have helped him shape the new profile of the Akali Dal.

The friend circle of this management graduate from Los Angeles' California State University includes influential people from North India - from Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Delhi and other places. Former PM Inder Kumar Gujral’s son Naresh is a known close friend, so is the MP from Ludhiana Sharanjit Singh Dhillon.

From asserting his authority on the state police and bureaucracy - some of whose members were responsible for the corruption cases and the prison days that Sukhbir and his father faced under the previous Congress government led by Amarinder Singh - Sukhbir's stamp is being felt in most decisions that his chief minister father is taking.

Take the state cabinet for example. Sukhbir's brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia - a first-time legislator - has been sworn in a cabinet minister. The 18-member council of ministers has four ministers, including chief minister Badal, from the Badal family.

In the run up to the state assembly polls on Feb 13, Sukhbir was all over the Akali campaign, be it political rallies, ad campaigns, crisis management or getting people to switch loyalties.

His wife, Harsimrat, who otherwise manages home and their three children studying in Delhi schools, gave him the back-up this time for the ad campaign and PR work for the party.

Sukhbir, who joined mainstream politics after being elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996, was a minister of state for industries in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1998-99. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1998 general election.

He was a Rajya Sabha member during 2001-2004 before being elected again to the Lok Sabha in May 2004.




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