In what may spell trouble for Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal, the leader of the SAD Legislature Party, Manpreet Singh Ayali, on Monday went against party decision to support National Democratic Alliance (NDA) presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu and announced boycott of the election citing wrongs committed to Punjab and underlined the need of leadership change in the SAD.
“Listening to the sentiments of the Sikh community, the issues of Punjab and the voice of my conscience, I am not voting for the candidate of any party in the presidential election today,” Ayali, who represents Dakha in the Punjab Assembly and is a three-time legislator, said in a tweet.
The SAD has three members in the Punjab Assembly. While Ayali abstained from voting in the Presidential election, the two other SAD MLAs, Sukhwinder Sukhi and Ganieve Majithia voted for Murmu.
In a video on his Facebook page, Ayali said the result of the wrong decisions taken earlier by the top leadership of the party is that the party has won only three seats in the 2022 Assembly elections.
He said now is the time for changes in the leadership, as recommended by the party committee- formed by the Akali Dal to analyse reasons for its rout in the Assembly elections, to strengthen the SAD. This committee is believed to have been told by the party workers across Punjab that the party should have collective leadership instead of “family (read Badals) rule”.
Questioning the party decision to extend support to Murmu, the SAD leader said he has nothing against her, but the party didn’t consult him or the Sikh community before taking this decision. Ayali said there was no question of supporting Congress candidate because of the atrocities committed by the party on Sikhs and Punjabis.
He, however, said the former SAD ally the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre has also failed to do justice to Punjab by denying the state its rights including Punjab’s rights over Chandigarh and the issue of Satluj Yamuna Link Canal.
He said the Centre is giving land for Haryana in Chandigarh for building its new Assembly building which is wrong with Punjab.
Ever since the SAD’s poor performance in Assembly polls there have been murmurs of discontent in the party over the leadership of the Badal clan.