From our Special Monitoring Service

Mr. Surjit S. Barnala, former Union Agriculture Minister and one of the Coarchitects of Punjab Accord, was appointed Acting President of Akali Dal and Sant Ajit Singh; District Jathedar Ropar was nominated as convener of Dal’s Parliamentary Board on August 24, in a meeting of 24 District Jathedars and State units presidents of Akali Dal. Former Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC chief Mr. Gurcharan Singh Tohra left the meeting after some time because they were not in favor of both these appointments. Both Mr. Tohra and Mr. Badal also opposed the resolution adopted by the district Jathedars in favor of Akali Center Accord.

A spokesman for Badal Section later alleged that appointment of Mr. Barnala as acting convener was made on the recommendation of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and Governor of Punjab, Mr. Arjun Singh. They also alleged that many district presidents of Akali Dal were pressurized by Deputy Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police for getting their votes in favor of Mr. Barnala. Various presidents of state units were brought to Chandigarh for attending the meeting by government agencies and on special government planes. Interestingly Mr. Ravi Inder Singh former Speaker Punjab Assembly and Captain Amarinder Singh Maharaja Patiala, who recently joined the Akali Dal, have extended their support to Barnala. A proposal to appoint Mr. Barnala and Sant Ajit Singh as acting President and chairman of Parliamentary Board was moved by Captain Amarinder Singh. Mr. Amarinder Singh is considered to be a close friend of Mr. Arjun Singh, Governor of Punjab.

The security arrangements at the venue of the meeting were extremely tight. The whole area of sector 5 in which the SGPC offices are located was cordoned by the police and all the entry points to office were in the control of state armed police and no one else except the invitees to the meeting was allowed to go inside the building. Even the district Jathedars were made subject to metal detector tests before going into the office. Only personnel from various Govt. intelligence agencies were moving freely inside the SGPC office building where the meeting of Akali Dal was going on.

They were conveying the developments of meeting every minute on the wireless sets especially installed for this purpose inside the SGPC compound.

Meanwhile a meeting of rival United Akali Dal at Amritsar on August 24 authorized Baba Joginder Singh acting President to decide whether or not the party should contest the coming Parliamentary and Assembly elections in Punjab. Several leaders of all India Sikh Students Federation and representatives of Damdami Taksal of late Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala opposed the Party’s Participation in the election. Their main spokesman retired Major General Narinder Singh said that the party should boycott all election till the implementation of Anandpur Sahib Resolution and release of all young men and army deserters.

Article extracted from this publication >>  August 30, 1985