CHANDIGARH: Sukhbir Singh Badal, the 56-year-old Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, is finally emerging from the shadows of his father, five-time former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, and leading the party on his own for the first time.
Sukhbir had faced flak from senior leaders-turned-dissidents post the loss in Assembly polls in 2017. Anger among people over sacrilege involving the Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 was the reason that reduced SAD to 14 seats in the Assembly, and party elders Ranjit Singh Bharampura, Sewa Singh Sekhwan and Rattan Singh Ajnala revolted, only to be expelled. Senior leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had questioned Sukhbir’s functioning and quit all party posts, though he stayed in the party.
That episode proved a blessing in disguise for Sukhbir, who stood his ground and is now in total command of SAD.
He is now addressing three public meetings daily for the Lok Sabha elections.
Sukhbir, who is contesting from the Ferozepur seat, has also been able to strengthen the campaign of his wife and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal from Bathinda, which she won in 2009 and 2014.
Political commentator Kuldeep Singh said, “He surely is out of his father’s shadow, but it’s too early to say whether he will pass the acid test.”