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Akali Dal plays ‘victim card’ to revive party fortunes

Chandigarh, September 20: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) may be losing its control over majority of the 22 zila parishads and 150 panchayat samitis that went to the polls on Wednesday. But the party leadership, down in the dumps after politics over the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report took precedence and discredited them as a Panthic party, especially in the Malwa region, seems to have used these rural polls to uplift the party.

With a 10 per cent drop in poll percentage and an FIRagainst party chief Sukhbir Badal, the Akalis have managed to carry on with their banter of “Congress high handedness and disruption to peace in state”.

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By playing victim, claiming that booth capturing was rampant, especially in Ferozepur, Muktsar and Bathinda districts – which were earlier Akali strongholds — the Akali Dal leaders have made a bid to resurrect their dwindling political fortune. The fact that party patriarch Parkash Singh Badal and president Sukhbir were forced out of their home to tour their constituencies, party’s senior leaders and former ministers too forced to stage dharnas, all appear to be an attempt to lift the party’s sagging political fortunes in the area, post the commission report being used politically against them.

If Faridkot rally last week, helped the party in reinvigorating their scattered cadres, the “victimisation” projected by the party leaders in Wednesday’s elections, will only help them rebuild their cadres.

Not that the attempt by the Akalis is without basis. Besides a case against Sukhbir and other party leaders, complaints of booth capturing were rampant across all districts of Malwa and videos of booth capturing and votes being stamped in favour of Congress nominees went viral on the social media. This also prompted the State Election Commission to order repolling in 43 booths (32 in Muktsar district alone) late in the evening.

Though the party fanned its leaders in their respective constituencies, and all incidents of skirmishes/booth capturing or violence, were “effectively” played up to project the party as “the aggrieved party”, only time will tell whether they win over the sympathy of the voters, even as they look set to lose their control over these rural bodies.

Source Tribune India

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