Chandigarh The Longowal faction is said to be making serious efforts to woo back Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, former chief minister. His release from detention under the NSA in April had earned him the status of a dissident.
Baba Joginder Singh, father of Jarnial Singh Bhindranwale, had nominated Mr. Harchard Singh Longowal and Mr. G. S. Tohra, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, as members of the United Akali Dal ad hoc committee. Despite the dissociation of the three leaders from the United Akali Dal, it was being presumed that Mr. Badal had a soft corner for the Baba who had also won over some of his staunch followers, including Mr. Atma Singh, Mr. Parkash Singh Majitha and Mr. Ujagar Singh Sekhwan, all MLAs.
That Baba Joginder Singh had expelled Mr. Longowal and Mr. Tohra from the united Akali Dal a few days ago while retaining Mr. Badal in the ad hoe committee had created misgivings about the former chief minister’s loyalty to Mr. Longowal. But these misgivings are now being dispelled by Mr. Badal himself.
Asked about his retention in the united Akal Dal, Mr. Badal said that he was not a party to this decision. The Baba did not take him into confidence while nominating him in his ad hoc committee nor consulted him while retaining him in it.
According to reports, the Akali Dal (L) leaders now want Mr. Badal to end his continued silence in the party affairs.
Mr. Badal says he has to attend to his mother who is seriously ill and admitted to the PGI in Chandigarh. He is at the hospital practically for the whole day and cannot take a vanguard position in the party, for the time being.
Senior leaders of the party, including Mr. Harchand Singh Longowal, Mr. Tohra, Mr. Balwant Singh and Surjit Singh Barnala former ministers had met Mr. Badal on Friday and Saturday. The purpose of Friday’s meeting was apparently to enquire after the health of his mother, but important party matters were discussed at the meeting held on Saturday morning. The meeting at Chandigarh to facilitate the participation in the party’s deliberation of Mr. Badal is considered a concession to him.
Though Mr. Badal has been stating he has full faith in the leadership of Mr. Longowal he does not come forward with a convincing explanation why some of his staunch supporters have taken sides with Baba Joginder Singh. Some of his colleagues in the party try to explain this saying that Mr. Atma Singh and Mr. Majitha have joined the Baba’s camp for personal reasons. According to them, Mr. Atma Singh is a rival to Mr. Tohra in the SPGC affairs and Mr. Majitha has been nursing a grouse ever since he was replaced as the convener of the Akali Dal ad hoc committee which was constituted to look after the party during the detention of Mr. Longowal.
Mr. Badal declines to admit his own differences with Mr. Tohra who seems to be winning popularity among the Sikh masses by his fiery and forthright speeches and forceful denunciation of the Government for atrocities against the Sikhs, but the impression that Mr. Tohra is gaining popularity at the cost of Mr. Badal is becoming a reality for a large number of party activists.
Article extracted from this publication >> July 12, 1985