'Sukhbir calls the shots in Badal government'

'Sukhbir calls the shots in Badal government'

In the last five years no one was doubtful about the apparent political heir of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Punjab politics.

The historic win of the Akali Dal in the recent Assembly elections, in which Sukhbir Badal led from the front, has made his domination in the party and the government absolute.

As Parkash Singh Badal took oath as chief minister of Punjab for the record fifth time, also becoming the oldest chief minister in the country at the age of 84-plus, it was his son Sukhbir, 49, who was at the centre stage of everything.
All the VVIPs and even media organisation editors were flown in by helicopters for the ceremony.

Badal Junior, who is also the Akali Dal president and has been re-inducted as deputy chief minister in his father's government, is the one who calls all the shots in the government and the party.

Sukhbir holds the all-important portfolios of home, excise and taxation, sports and investment promotion. Within hours of taking over, the government announced the appointment of Sumedh Singh Saini, who has had a chequered career as a senior police officer and is a close confidant of Sukhbir, as the Punjab Director General of Police (DGP).

Saini superseded five officers to get the top job. Among the new ministers in the Badal government, Sukhbir's confidants, brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia, S S Malooka and Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, were inducted as cabinet ministers.

All have been allocated important departments. During the run up to the January 30 state Assembly elections, Sukhbir had led the party with the slogan 'Raj Karange Pachhi Saal'.

With his father spending more time in his Lambi constituency, where he was in a contest with his cousin, Sukhbir was the star campaigner for the Akalis.

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