Senior Akali leader Sukhdev Dhindsa quits all party posts (Second Lead)
Chandigarh : Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa on Saturday resigned from all positions in the party, citing "advancing age and deteriorating health".
The resignation invited sharp reaction from other parties with a Congress leader saying that Dhindsa quit the party posts as he was feeling "suffocated".
The SAD issued a statement from Dhindsa's son saying that there was nothing politically amiss in the resignation. Dhindsa sent his resignation to SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal.
A veteran leader, Dhindsa, 82, is the president of the party's powerful core committee along with Sukhbir Badal. Apart from his declining health, other reasons are being read into the development, particularly the SAD facing allegations related to incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib during the regime of the Akali Dal in 2015.
Dhindsa, a former Union Minister for chemicals and sports, was absent at the SAD's 'Jabar Virodh' rally, which took place in Faridkot on September 16, while the entire top brass of the party was present at the rally.
Dhindsa's son, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, was the Finance Minister (2012-2017) in the government headed by then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Dhindsa junior is now a general secretary of the SAD.
While Badal, 90, a five-time chief minister, is still going strong as patron of the SAD, the resignation by Dhindsa has raised questions about political crisis within the SAD.
Congress legislator Raj Kumar Verka, reacting to the resignation by Dhindsa, told a news channel that the veteran leader was "feeling suffocated" in the present setup in the SAD.
In an apparent damage control measure, the SAD issued a statement from Dhindsa's son Parminder Singh Dhindsa on Saturday evening saying that his "family was committed to the Shiromani Akali Dal" and that he on his part would take this legacy forward after the retirement of his father, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from active party work.
Dhindsa Junior stated that his father's resignation letter was being misread.
"My father has clearly stated that he stands with the party and that he will continue to serve in the Rajya Sabha. I, on my part, would like to state that our family has been given great honour by the SAD, party patron Sardar Badal and party president Sukhbir Badal. We have worked for the party through thick and thin and will continue to give our best to the SAD in the coming future also," he said.
Stating that he was traveling abroad for a world cycling federation meet, Dhindsa junior said his father "had decided to relinquish his party duties due to ill-health".
He said his father had undergone a bypass surgery recently and was also suffering from a shoulder and back problem due to which there was difficultly in movement.
"Recently Sardar Dhindsa has been forced to have several pain killers every day to tackle severe pain due to which he took a considered decision to withdraw himself from active party duties. Nothing more should be read in this development," he said, adding he would continue to discharge his duties as party general secretary.
The SAD, set up in 1920, is the second oldest political party in the country after the Congress.