CHANDIGARH: Threat to the leadership of the SGPC controlled by the Badal Tohra group is said to have precipitated the split in the Unified Akali Dal (UAD) Launched from the Akal Takht in February last year and which more or less stands wound up now.

The election of Mr. Jagdev Singh Talwandi as president of the Shiromani Akali Dal was a “master stroke” to avert this threat, the Badal Tohra group sources said on Saturday.

According to the sources the UAD council was dissolved by the group led by Mr. Simranjit Singh Mann and its expanded to isolate the SGPC president Mr. G.S. Tohra, and the former chief minister, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, both detained, and ultimately finish them politically.

It was under a well thought plan that sweeping changes were made in the UAD leadership keeping in view the forthcoming election of SGPC president in which Mr. Tohra would have been replaced by Mr. Ajit Singh his staunch opponent, the official candidate for the post, the sources alleged.

The tussle had started when the SGPC executive dismissed Mr. Jasbir Singh Rode, Akal Takht head priests aligned to him on May 3. “Had it not been done, Mr. Rode would either have subjugated the SGPC under militants or dissolved it claiming supremacy in the Sikh affair given to him by Sarbat Khalsa in January 1986” the source said and added that Mr. Rode’s removal was the “first master stroke.”

Both the group has been charging each other with being “agents” of the center. The Mann group had alleged on Friday that the Badal Tohra group elected Mr.

Talwandi as president of the party after consultation with two Union ministers and the governor of a southern state.

The annual SGPC election, normally held by the end of November was advanced last year to October 6. In a keen contest, Mr. Tohra then candidate of the UAD was declared elected president. The Akali Dal (L) which had fielded Mr. Harcharan Singh Hudiara against Mr. Tohra claimed that its candidate had been backed by a majority of the SGPC members at a parallel meeting. The dispute has not been legally decided so far though the Tohra group continues to manage the SGPC affairs.

The party headed by Mr. Talwandi is no more the UAD. It had been designated ‘Shiromani Akali Dal’ which is likely to be organizationally run on the pattern of other political parties with a set of office bearers, working committee and advisers. Mr. Talwandi is a member of the UAD presidium and so are Mr. Badal and Mr. Surjan Singh Thekedar. Mr. Thekedar also detained is considered a staunch follower of Mr. Tohra. With the launching of the new party the strength of the presidium stands reduced to four including Baba Joginder Singh and Mr. Gajja Singh, two original members. And Mr, Charanjit Singh Walia and Mr. Sucha Singh Chhotepur the two others who were added to, it by Mr. Mann.

After having dealt with the threat politically the BadalTohra group now plans to reestablish the SGPC supremacy in the Golden Temple. Mr. Darshan Singh who has been reappointed Jathedar of the Akal Takht is likely to be installed formally on August 31, 1988. Similarly, efforts are being made to install the SGPC appointed Jathedars at Takht Keshgarh at Anandpur Sahib and Damdama Sahib.

The Mann group is meeting at Ludhiana on Sunday and is expected to initiate some counter move in a bid to take on the rival action.

Some supporters of Mr. Badal, it is said, wanted the Thursday meeting, in which Mr. Talwandi was elected president of the party to be postponed. But Mr. Tohra’s followers insisted that Mr. Badal had conveyed his support to Mr. Talwindi a little before he was detained under the NSA in June.

Mr. Manjit Singh Calcutta general secretary of the Akali Dal (Talwandi) on Saturday said the Akali Dal came into being to safeguard the SGPC and could not leave it in the lurch now. According to him all the Akal Takht jathedars had been appointed by the SGPC after the Gurdwara Act was enforced 63 years ago and not by a Sarbat Khalsa. The SGPC now represented the sarbat KhaIsa.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 9, 1988