While SAD lost on other eight seats, the wins by the Badal couple helped Sukhbir Badal salvage his reputation as SAD president to a certain extent.
The Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday was all praise for ally BJP for its organisational structure, regular meetings of its various units, and its approach towards booth-level management.
The praise came from party president Sukhbir Badal as he chaired two meetings — SAD core committee and a meeting with Akali Dal MLAs, district and constituency heads — at the party headquarters.
“He (Sukhbir) was all praise for organisational structure of the BJP,” said an Akali leader who attended one of the meetings.
A senior party leader who was present in the meeting of party MLAs, leaders in-charge of constituencies and districts, quoted Sukhbir as saying: “BJP activists chant Modi,Modi at each booth even in his (Modi’s) absence…..Did any SAD leader chant Sukhbir, Sukhbir at any booth?”
As Sukhbir posed this question, a party leader raised a slogan: “Sukhbir Singh Badal Zindabad”. Another SAD leader confirmed the reference to Modi chant by Sukhbir at the meeting.
Sukhbir, well placed sources told The Indian Express, also announced halting the membership drive of the SAD to start it afresh in coming days to make it “more representative in nature”.
The membership drive had been started in April this year. A party leader revealed that a committee headed by party’s Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder was constituted to finalise the modalities of the new arrangement for the membership drive.
SAD also passed a resolution in the core committee to express “deep gratitude to the people of Punjab” for enhancing vote share of the SAD-BJP alliance from 30 per cent to 37 per cent and for helping the alliance take a lead in 35 Assembly segments and finish a close second in 16 seats.
A number of core committee members pointed out that the party’s support base in rural areas had shrunk and it was Modi factor which worked to its advantage in urban areas. The drift of Dalit votes in some constituencies to BSP was also discussed.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, SAD won two of the ten seats it contested in Punjab and BJP won two out of three it fought on in the state. The outcome has already given rise to murmurs in the BJP camp to demand a bigger role in the state.
The only two seats SAD won this time were Bathinda and Ferozepur, contested by Union Cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Sukhbir Badal, respectively. While SAD lost on other eight seats, the wins by the Badal couple helped Sukhbir Badal salvage his reputation as SAD president to a certain extent. The statistics presented in the SAD core committee on Tuesday were apparently aimed at consolidating Sukhbir’s hold on party. Three veterans from Majha, Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan had revolted against Sukhbir, blaming him for party’s worst ever defeat in Vidhan Sabha elections after SAD could manage to win only 15 seats out of total 117 seats in 2017 assembly elections-IE