Unconfirmed reports in Akali circles said former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, who is currently unemployed, may be asked to head the SGPC. "The SGPC has a budget of hundreds of crores, so there is little chance of Badal declining the offer,” said an Akali Dal insider.
Sources said Badungar’s failure to come up with a plan to commemorate the death anniversary of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra rankled the Akali Dal leader who took Badungar to task at a gurdawara in Bahadurgarh in Patiala.
Sources close to the former Deputy Chief Minister said the Congress government’s move to mark the day with a state level function could have been pre-empted had Badungar risen to the task. Instead, Akali Dal was forced to play catch up by hurriedly organising a number of events to recall the contribution of Tohra who remained the head of the SGPC for a record 27 years, often termed as one of the most influential and controversial Sikh leaders of the 20th century.
Incidentally, in the past, the SAD invariably organized a function every year on Tohra’s anniversary at his native village Tohra, and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal used to attend it.
Tohra’s adopted daughter, who claimed the legacy of the veteran leader, quit the SAD last year after she was denied a ticket, and joined the Aam Aadmi Party for one, but eventually lost to Harinder Pal Singh Chandumajra of the SAD.
With Badungar found sleeping on the job, and the certified Panth Rattan leader’s legacy remaining no one’s priority, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh saw it as a strategic move to blindside the Akalis.
As a result, the Congress government announced a State Level Function in the memory of Tohra at his village. The move took Sukhbir Singh Badal by surprise who then quickly moved to plan a function at Gurdawara Nauvin Patshahi, Bahadurgarh in Patiala. It was at this function where Badungar got into a tiff with the former Deputy CM and quit on the spot.
An insider said the tiff began when a panthic appointee Punjabi University professor quoted a statement by Badungar that he was made the SGPC chief after Intelligence officials told the Badals that his appointment will boost the chances of SAD winning in Assembly elections.
When Sukhbir asked Badungar to clarify this statement, Badungar initially tried to play it down and instead sought to raise the issue of an alleged apology by a dera head. Later, as Sukhbir remained insistent on seeking a clarification, Badungar lost his cool and announced he will resign.
Sources said that top Akali Dal leadership will try to impress upon Badungar that there is no such thing as self-respect or pride in the Akali Dal’s working arrangements and therefore he should continue in his post, but if he does not relent, SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal will be requested by the non-working committee of the party to undertake this seva.
Akali leaders said top chartered accountants are now busy to understand SGPC’s budget and resources since Badals are likely to ask the most important question on April 1 – how many crores?
Sources said some senior newspaper editors were watching the developments with interest, drooling over the prospects of hundreds of advertisements from mohalla-level jathedars to congratulate and thanks Parkash Singh Badal for agreeing to do so much more seva even in his 90’s but were left disappointed and cheated when they found out that it an April Fool’s joke. Besides, there are not enough crores in any case to convince a leader so senior.