H S Bawa
Jalandhar, August 20-
Manpreet Singh Badal, the president of People’s Party of Punjab seems to be trying hard to prove allegations of being autocratic leveled on him by the leaders of his party.
The senior leaders of PPP already ruing Manpreet’s style of taking them lightly and not consulting them even on vital policy issues, were taken aback, as the venue of a meeting of the PPP called for Monday afternoon at his residence in Chandigarh was suddenly shifted to Barnala.
This is being seen as an attempt to torpedo the meeting by none other than Manpreet Singh Badal who was anticipating a grueling questioning session from seniors within the party. Not used to such questioning, he decided to shift the venue and informed the leaders about the change just at the nick of the time. Manpreet’s plan to torpedo the meeting met with success as two most senior leaders of the party - Dr. Sardara Singh Johal, the patron and Bir Devinder Singh,the Chief Spokesperson - decided not to go to Barnala for the meeting scheduled at 3.00 pm.
The leaders from all over Punjab who were on Friday and Saturday informed telephonically that a meeting of the party would be held on Monday at Manpreet’s residence at Chandigarh but the leaders got messages on Monday morning that the meeting would be held at Barnala.
Sources said that the Agenda of the meeting also stood changed. Initially, the meeting was called to discuss the situation party was facing due to continuous exodus of worthwhile leaders from the party and the lack of organizational structure of the party but on Monday morning the leaders were told that it was a meeting to discuss a Conference in the memory of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.
It is pertinent to mention here that Dr. Sardara Singh Johal, the patron of the party, had listed some ‘unsolicited suggestions’ for the attention of Manpreet Singh Badal on his Facebook page. This clearly indicated that Manpreet Singh Badal was not accessible and receptive to the ideas of intellectuals and leaders even of the stature of Dr. Sardara Singh Johal and as such had to convey his suggestions to the party president through his Facebook page.
‘Yes Punjab’ had carried Dr. Johal’s suggestions in a news item (Link - http://bit.ly/R6nqQx )
Bir Devinder Singh, talking to ‘Yes Punjab’ confirmed that he and Dr. Johal were not going to Barnala to attend the meet. “No proper agenda of the meeting is ever circulated. This time, I was clearly told over phone that the agenda was to discuss party affairs. I was told that there would be two meetings. One of all the presidents and the other of a core group of around 7 people”, he said.
Questioning Manpreet’s decision to suddenly shift the venue and change the agenda,, Bir Devinder Singh said that the meeting called for Monday was a meeting of the PPP and he could not understand, how a meeting of the PPP could take place at the residence of Surjit Singh Barnala who is not a part of the PPP.
“How can a meeting of the PPP be held at the resident of Mr. Barnala when his wife, Surjit Kaur Barnala, is heading a separate party by the name of Shiromani Akali Dal Longowal?”, he asked.
“This is not the way. We are not puppets. We had joined hands with Manpreet as he had promised people of Punjab an alternative to the feudal set-up of both SAD and the Congress but what we are seeing is the emergence of yet another family set-up. He is surrounded by his cronies and doesn’t want to consult anybody or take anyone into confidence on any issue. In the process the politics of principles has taken a back seat which would eventually fizzle out”, Bir Devinder Singh said adding that Manpreet probably didn’t have the courage to face the genuine and demanding questions of the leaders and workers of his party”.
Bir Devinder Singh said that there have been rumours as well as news items indicating that Manpreet was talking to Congress and negotiating for Bathinda seat which he wanted to fight opposite Harsimrat Kaur Badal but he has neither cared to deny the reports nor he has taken the party into confidence about any such move.