Leaders recall service, sacrifice as Akali Dal marks its 100 years

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The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) marked its centennial commemoration day with a grand rally in Punjab’s Moga district on Tuesday, highlighting the party’s storied history in affirming federalism and securing farmers’ rights.

At the rally held months before the assembly elections in Punjab, the SAD called for the formation of a joint front of regional parties to espouse the cause of federalism nationally. Leaders also recalled the party’s rich history, and sacrifice, in fighting for “Panth, Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat”.

Former five-time CM Parkash Singh Badal said the SAD was the first party to raise the voice of federalism, and always fought for the rights of the oppressed.

“Now all regional parties are also calling for strengthening federal rights. We are committing to strengthen federal nature of the country”, he declared. “It is time to recall the contributions and sacrifices made by Akalis for the quom (community) and Punjab,” said the 94-year-old leader.

His son and party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said the SAD – the oldest regional political party – was often called “shaheedan da jatha” (band of martyrs) for its commitment to the struggle for the rights of the poor and peasants.That tradition of struggle continued till date, he added.

“From holding ‘chabian da morcha’, a campaign for the recovery of the keys of the Sri Harmandir Sahib treasury in the early 1920s to the national Emergency and the recent farmers’ agitation, Akalis have always fought from the front. There is no other political front in the country that could match sacrifices made by the Akalis,” he added.

The grand stage prominently displayed pictures of former heads of the party. Other prominent leaders present were former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral, and Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee chief Harjinder Singh Dhami, and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Mishra. SAD has tied up with the BSP for the 2022 state polls.

The Akali leadership revived the party’s commitment to work on the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, first drafted in 1973, to achieve greater autonomy to states.

“Celebrating 100 years of ‘nirswarth seva (selfless service),’balidan (sacrifice) and sangharsh (struggle) to preserve the pride and honour of Panth, Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat. These are our core values and we are committed to following the same path for peace, progress and prosperity of Punjab,” the SAD said in a tweet.

Making a poll pitch, Sukhbir Singh Badal promised 50,000 per acre compensation for crop damage, restoration of old pension scheme for government employees and free power for all religious places if the SAD-BSP alliance comes to power in Punjab next year. He said even after 55 years of its bifurcation, Punjab still hadn’t got back Punjabi-speaking areas from Haryana. “Akalis spearheaded the movement of Punjabi Suba to meet aspirations of Punjabis. Respective central governments crushed the federal spirit but the party is committed to fighting it back,” he added.

Parkash Singh Badal exuded confidence that in the coming assembly elections, the SAD-BSP alliance will repeat their performance in the 1996 polls. “In 1996, BSP supremo Kanshi Ram and Akalis fought Lok Sabha elections together and won 11 out of 13 seats in Punjab. The alliance will perform again. But we will have to fight against Congress government of Punjab, BJP-led Centre and the AAP to protect interests of Punjabis,” he said.

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