Badal Jr. is Akali president

New role: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal presenting a Siropa to his son Sukhbir Singh on Thursday.

New role: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal presenting a Siropa to his son Sukhbir Singh on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: PTI

Special Correspondent

Parkash Singh Badal elevated as “patron” of the party

CHANDIGARH: The General House of the Shiromani Akali Dal, which met in the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar on Thursday, unanimously elected Sukhbir Singh as its new president. His father, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, has been elevated as “patron” of the party.

At the delegate session, which was conducted in the Teja Singh Samundari Hall within the headquarters of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr. Singh’s name was proposed by the party’s senior vice-president Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and seconded by secretary-general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. This was preceded by Mr. Parkash Singh Badal’s name being proposed, but the octogenarian leader requested that he be relieved of the duties he had been carrying out since 1995.

The 46-year-old Sukhbir Singh, who represents Faridkot in the Lok Sabha, was appointed working president of the party after the Akali-BJP alliance wrested power in Punjab about a year ago. His elevation to the position which was occupied in the past by legendary Akali leaders acquires significance in the light of the ongoing struggle for succession within the Akali Dal.

With his unique combination of modern thought and tradition, Mr. Sukhbuir Singh has been credited with the success of the party in the 2007 Assembly polls. Earlier, as general secretary of the party, he had been successful in mobilising the youth and infusing new life into the organisation.

Talking to reporters, Mr. Badal said he hoped the new chief would live up to the expectations of the people of the State, especially the party workers.

Amid congratulatory embraces and blessing by senior leaders, Mr. Sukhbir Singh said his top priority would be to strengthen the party by reaching out to the workers at the grassroots level. He said while he had respect for all the senior party leaders who entrusted him the responsibility “to serve the party of martyrs”, the senior Mr. Badal would continue to guide the party.

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