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Unity the need of the hour: Akali leader

June 14, 2003 19:51 IST

Captain Kanwaljit Singh, former finance minister in the Prakash Singh Badal government and a senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader, on Saturday said the unity in the Akali factions was the need of the hour.

Talking to from Chandigarh, he said the differences between Badal and Gurcharan Singh Tohra have been sorted out and they will jointly fight against Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. "We lost the elections to the Congress because we were divided," he said.

Tohra merged his Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal with the Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal on Friday.

They had parted ways four years ago when Tohra talked about decentralisation of power in the Akali Dal and was unceremoniously shown the door by Badal. Tohra later floated the SHSAD

Asked if Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the Shiromani Gurdwara
Parbandhak Committee, would resign to make way for Tohra, Singh said that this matter would be looked into at a later stage.

He denied any monetary involvement in the unification process between the two factions. He also denied the charge that the Akalis were back to their old game and they were playing into the hands of Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan by euologising Bhindranwale.

"This is essentially an emotional issue. By declaring him a martyr a controversy has been laid to rest. We in the Akali dal are opposed to politics of violence.

"That is the reason that why we have not sought unity with the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Simaranjit Singh Mann, who has been supporting the separatists," he argued.

He sought to play down the statement of Jagjit Singh Chohan who had declared in Chandigarh that he would keep alive the issue of so-called Khalistan.

When asked the reason for Tohra accepting Badal's offer, he said, "Once Badal had appeared before the Akal Takhat and explained his position, there was no issue left between Tohra and Badal and hence the two senior leaders have decided to join hands."

Onkar Singh in New Delhi