NEW DELHI, Feb. 8, India: Reuter: The embattled Chief Minister of India’s Punjab state suffered another setback today when two Punjab ministers defied him by openly supporting an edict from Sikh Priests to reconstitute the state’s ruling Akali Dal party.
Political sources said Cooperation Minister, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Revenue Minister Major Singh Uboke had issued statements supporting an order from Five High Priests asking Chief Minister Sunjit Singh Barnala to step down as Akali Dal leader.
The moderate Barnala, supported by the Central government in New Delhi, yesterday rejected the directive to dissolve his party by 5:00 p.m. today.
Barnala has already been adjudged guilty by defying the authority of the High Priests, who assert spiritual and temporal authority over all Sikhs.
The Five were expected to announce Barnala’s punishment, which could include excommunication, later today.
Last night, 30 key officials, including some members of state parliament, announced their resignations from the party, the sources said.
Those officials and Chandumajra and Uboke were expected to go to the Sikh holy city of Amritsar today to tell the Priests they support a new Sikh party.
Barnala told a press conference after the deadline had passed that none of his ministers had resigned.
He said he wrote to the Priests today offering them his party’s services to achieve Sikh unity but he would not submit to their edict.
Akali Dal sources said the two sides seemed to have reached a sialemate.
Article extracted from this publication >> February 13, 1987
Article extracted from this publication >>