With Clouds of Discontent Hanging over Party, Sukhbir Badal Announces Major Structural Changes in Akali Dal

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Nearly decimated in the recently held state assembly elections and gradually losing ground in some of its bastions in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday announced establishing a new organisational structure from the “bottom to up” through an electoral system to be overseen by a newly constituted central election body.

The structural changes also aim to give more space to the youth, women as well as other sections of society. Badal announced reserving fifty per cent of seats in the forthcoming assembly elections for party workers who were below the age of fifty years.

“The changes would be effected at the highest level of decision-making in the party – the core committee – also. The core committee would be reconstituted to include members of the new generation including youth, women, and representatives of all sections of society,” said the former deputy chief minister.

He also announced that the party would henceforth follow the principle of “one family, one ticket”. Upon formation of the government, he said, chairmanships at both the district and state level would be given to party workers and family members of MPs and MLAs would not be considered for these posts.

“The aim is to give maximum opportunity to workers and groom them as the next generation of leaders,” said Badal. He also announced that henceforth district presidents would not contest the elections.

He said polls to the new organisational structure would be completed by November 30 under the supervision of the central election body. According to Badal, 117 observers would be appointed to oversee the entire exercise across all constituencies of the state.

“The focus will be on the creation of booth committees which will choose the booth president. The latter will elect the circle presidents who in turn will elect the district presidents,” he revealed.

Badal said that the YAD and SOI would be reconstituted and that the Sikh Student Federation would be revived. He said the upper age limit for YAD members would be 35 years, with a five-year concession for the president. Similarly, he added, the upper age limit of SOI and SSF members would be thirty years and only students would be enrolled in these organisations.

He also announced that henceforth all Sikh office bearers in the party would have to be Amritdhari.

The new changes also include the formation of a parliamentary board that will examine ways and means to attract the best talent into the party as well as suggest the best candidates for the assembly elections. Badal announced that a disciplinary board headed by Sikander Singh Maluka had already been created and appealed to party workers to air their differences in the appropriate party forums and not go to the media.

Sukhbir Badal has been facing dissension within the party rank and file after the disastrous performance in the polls and the structural changes are aimed at dousing the fires of rebellion.

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