Amritsar: Sukhbir Singh Badal was on Saturday unanimously re-elected as the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal for another five years, the third time in a row.
The name of the 57-year-old former Punjab chief minister was proposed by senior party leader Tota Singh and seconded by another senior leader, Prem Singh Chandumajra while Jagmeet Singh Brar endorsed it.
Around 600 party delegates gave their approval, mandating Sukhbir Singh Badal to lead the party for another five years.
Sukhbir Singh got the fresh mandate to lead the party on a day it was founded in 1920. The election coincided the function held to celebrate the 99th foundation day by the party.
The election for the post was held at Teja Singh Samundri Hall of the SGPC complex here.
Party patron and former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is the father of Sukhbir Singh Badal, could not attend the event due to health reasons. He had already conveyed his inability to attend the session.
After his election, Sukhbir Singh, was presented a 'Siropa' (robe of honour) by Sikh priests. His wife and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal was also present on the occasion.
SAD MLA and former Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who is the son of rebel leader and Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, was conspicuous by his absence.
The juniour Dhindsa, too, however, was in the city attending a parallel programme organised by rebel SAD (Taksalis) to mark the foundation day.
He along with Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee leaders Paramjit Singh Sarna and Manjit Singh GK were present at the function organised by splinter Akali groups, led by the SAD (Taksali).
Addressing the gathering at the separate function to mark the SAD's 99th foundation day, 83-year-old SAD leader S S Dhindsa challenged Sukhbir's leadership, saying under his tenure those who raised voice for the party's betterment were shown the door.
"The party was weakened..," he alleged.
Referring to many veteran SAD (Taksali) leaders who had in the past openly challenged Sukhbir Singh's leadership when they were in SAD, Dhindsa said, "What was their fault? They were shown the door because they raised their voice for party's good. Whosoever raised his voice, was shown the door".
The SAD had "deviated" from the principles on which it was formed, he asserted.
Insisting that he will remain in the SAD and work to strengthen it with like-minded people, Dhindsa, questioned the reprocess followed to reelect Sukhbir Singh, saying "the democratic process is no longer followed to elect the party chief. Is this an election?" he quipped.
In his speech to the gathering after his reelection, Sukhbir Singh Badal, however, hit back at Dhindsa, saying, "My father once said 'Taksalis' are those who are loyal and not those who hanker for posts and positions. There are many forces who are out to weaken the SAD and SGPC."
He asserted that the SAD has always emerged stronger out of challenges.
Following Sukhbir Singh Badal's reelection, the SAD also passed a resolution, dubbing 'Taksali' Akalis as desperate and frustrated elements", acting as "puppets in the Congress hands after selling their conscience and Sikh pride".
It said 'Taksali' Akalis have "become agents of the Congress in exchange for petty government favours".
They humiliated the respected Panthic term'Taksalis' when they shamelessly received honours on Guru Nanak Dev ji's 550 'Parkash Utsav' from the Congress stage this is the shameful truth behind their misuse of the name 'Taksali'," the resolution read.
"They are so devoid of the honour that although they oppose Shiromani Akali Dal, they do not have the courage to dissociate themselves from this party and its name. The Sikh masses and the Punjabis will teach them the lesson which they have always taught to all such opportunists who betrayed Shiromani Akali Dal in the past, it added.
Another resolution passed at the delegates' session said, The SAD stands for greater fiscal and political autonomy to all states as strong states mean a strong country.
The party also called for making the election manifestos of political parties a legally enforceable document.
It also demanded that Minimum Support Price and procurement of the agricultural produce must be made a fundamental right for farmers to make both the MSP and procurement legally enforceable.