Fissures within Akali Dal in Ajnala after Bony’s ‘homecoming’

AMRITSAR: There is resentment among the local Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership, a day after party president Sukhbir Singh Badal brought former Ajnala MLA Amarpal Singh Bony and his father and former MP Rattan Singh Ajnala back into the party fold.

The fissures were apparent even on Thursday, as Jodh Singh Samra, who is a Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member and SAD halqa incharge from Ajnala, along with other key local office-bearers skipped the party’s district-level rally at Rajasansi, where Sukhbir had welcomed back Bony.

Bony — who remained Ajnala MLA twice, in 2007 and 2012 — had left the party to join the breakaway group Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali), floated by his father and other rebels in December 2018.

“The Ajnala family did not consult the Akali rank and file in the segment before floating a new party. Then, they started levelling allegations against the party leadership,” said a key office-bearer, who did not wish to be named, on Friday, while objecting to the father-son duo’s “homecoming”.

“Our grievance is that we were not taken into confidence in this matter,” said Ajnala nagar panchayat president Jorawar Singh. “Party workers feel embarrassed, because of which all local leaders opted to stay away from the rally.”

There was a buzz about Bony’s rejoining the SAD since last month as he was in touch with Sukhbir, who he met at the reception of former cabinet minister and BJP leader Anil Joshi’s son in Amritsar.

Sources said Samra, who is close to Bikram Singh Majithia and was appointed the Ajnala halqa incharge after Bony’s exit from the party in 2018, had even approached the former Akali minister two days ahead of the Thursday rally to express his resentment.

After failing to get a favourable response, he along with other supporters — SGPC members Amrik Singh Vishoa and Swaran Kaur, Ramdass municipal council president Jaswinder Kaur Gill, state delegates Mukhtyar Singh Sufi and Navchand Singh, scheduled castes wing president Dalbir Singh Chak Dogra, backward classes wing president Rachhpal Singh and Jorawar Singh — decided to stay away from the rally.

“The new halqa incharge (Samra) worked very hard in the constituency after Bony left the party. All credit goes to him for preserving the Akali cadre, which would have otherwise moved to the Congress,” said Jorawar Singh, while adding that there is confusion among Akali workers as to in which capacity Bony has been brought back.

“The party workers’ anger is justified, as they love and respect me,” said Samra, adding that as of now the party has not given any mandate on who will lead the constituency.

“Bony may have been brought back into the party fold, but I am still the incharge and will keep serving the people of this segment,” he said.

Repeated attempts to contact Bony for comment proved futile as his phone was switched off.

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