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Jittery over Manpreet, Akalis attempt damage control


CHANDIGARH: Jittery over the show of strength in Amritsar on Sunday by rebel Akali leader and Badal clan member, Manpreet Badal, the Akalis have swung into damage control mode, with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal — despite his rib injury— meeting Youth Akali Dal (YAD) leader Kiranbir Kang, who had resigned as the youth wing president in a huff in 2009.

Badal spent around two hours with Kang’s family in Mohali, reviving old ties with the disgruntled leader, who had been sidelined ever since Sukhbir’s brother-in-law Bikram Majithia was made patron of the YAD in 2009. Kang had submitted his resignation to Sukhbir soon afterwards.

Badal Sr had so far left things to his son and party president Sukhbir Badal. His breakfast visit to Kang’s house in Mohali on Wednesday morning is being seen as the first obvious attempt in controlling whatever damage Manpreet might be causing to SAD.

The chief minister tried to play down the visit, saying he was “on a personal visit” and Kang was like a “son to
me”. However, Kang spilled the beans saying he was looking for “restoration of (his) respect through this visit”.
Elsewhere, the party, aided, allegedly by the state CID, has launched an exercise throughout rural Punjab to identify those who attended Manpreet’s rally on Sunday at Amritsar.

“The CID has been very active. Lot of pressure is being put on our supporters to disassociate with me,” said Manpreet Badal.

Sources revealed that to check his growing clout, cousin and rival Sukhbir Badal also prefers to spend nights at Badal, holding late night meetings to counter the trend.

“CID personnel are visiting villages in our area, noting down names of those who attended the rally, and particulars of the vehicles used,” alleged MS Kang, MLA Beas, who brought crowds from Tarn Taran and Beas.

Faridkot former MLA, Kushaldeep Dhillons’ relatives, who have close ties with Badal family for the past 20 years, are also being approached to woo the leader back in party fold. “Badal sahib, himself has been making these calls,” sources revealed.

Highly placed sources in Akali Dal claimed that Badal was no longer satisfied with Sukhbir’s handling of the situation and had, in fact, ordered the release of buses detained by police in Malwa on the eve of Manpreet’s rally.

“Our people are openly admitting of their allegiance with Manpreet, which is creating panic in Akalis, and they are trying all means to win them back,” said Jasbeer Brar, Manpreet’s cousin and MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment.

That the party is contemplating the situation deeply, is also evident from the way no action has come Kang or Brar’s way even though, both were put on notice by the party after their shift to Manpreet.

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