Badal Sr shows who is in charge

Semi Column

After going with the flow in matters of the state, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal asserted command recently by publicly snubbing close relative and Information and Public Relations Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. The senior Badal used the NRI Sammelan's concluding day function to rub in the point that young leaders like Majithia, who had made no sacrifices for the party, had got power on a platter, hinting that they were trying to usurp his position. He also said that senior party leaders must be given due respect.

He evidently made these points after severe criticism of the functioning of Majithia, including his hurling abuses in the Vidhan Sabha, and several instances of Youth Akali Dal workers under his command roughing up officials and political adversaries. Majithia, who is the brother-in-law of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, has been emerging as a power centre.

However, the senior Badal's barbs were also indirectly aimed at son Sukhbir, underlining that he should pay due respect to the senior leadership of the party.

The chief minister also went out of his way to single out old party stalwarts like Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Ajit Singh Kohar for praise for their contribution to the growth of the Akali Dal. They have been pushed to the sidelines in the new order put in place in the party by Sukhbir and Majithia, who has been dictating all major government decisions, including postings and transfers.

The senior Badal was being increasingly branded as Dhritarashtra for turning a blind eye to the excesses being committed in the state. His silence after Majithia's abuses in the Assembly was considered a sign of weakness. The message he gave at the NRI Sammelan was loud and clear: that there was no ambiguity over a change in leadership.

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