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Akali Dal factions led by Tohra, Badal unite

Press Trust of India

Posted: Jun 13, 2003 at 1428 hrs IST

In a move having significant impact on Punjab politics, two major factions of Akali Dal led by Parkash Singh Badal and Gurcharan Singh Tohra on Friday formally announced unity and agreed to work under the banner of Shiromani Akali Dal.

After a meeting with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Badal, Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra announced that he was dissolving his party.

Tohra read out a brief unity draft in gurmukhi after badal met him at the residence of his son-in-law and former minister Harmel Singh Tohra on Friday morning.

The draft, signed by both Badal and Tohra, says, "Keeping in view the sentiments of Sikh community, party rank and file, political need and the serious challenges faced by Punjab and the party, we declare the unity of SAD."

"We appeal to all workers to forget the past differences, ill will and hatred if any and cooperate whole-heartedly to achieve the goals of the panth (community)," it said.

Both the leaders hugged each other and exchanged sweets burying the differences which surfaced between the two Akali stalwarts about six years back.

Declaring that the new party would be known as Shiromani Akali Dal, both Badal and Tohra, who is recuperating from a massive heart attack he suffered last month in Patiala, claimed that the organisational set-up of the party would be announced shortly after holding discussions.

The unity was announced without any fanfare so much so, that only a few Akali workers knew about it. Prominent among those present on the occasion included former ministers Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Manjit Singh Calcutta.

The split between two Akali leaders took place after Tohra asked for de-centralisation of powers in the Akali Dal and was unceremoniously removed from the party as well as the SGPC.

"We want to serve Khalsa Panth and Punjab together. Sometimes differences creep in but they have now been resolved," Tohra said adding that "if there were no differences between us it would have been difficult for the Congress to come to power in Punjab"

"Punjab's farmers and people have suffered due to this divide, so it has become important for us to join hands," he said adding, "We don't want people to suffer any more".

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