Akali Dal to meet to elect leader

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 08, 2012 05:42 hrs

Chandigarh: Fresh from its historic victory in the assembly elections in Punjab, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has called a meeting of its legislators here later Thursday to elect the legislative party leader, who will be the next chief minister of the state.

The meeting will be held at the Punjab Bhawan here while the core committee of the Akali Dal will meet Thursday evening, party spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said.

There is speculation in Akali Dal and political circles here on whether Parkash Singh Badal, 84, will agree to a record fifth term as chief minister or whether he will ask his son and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal to take charge.

Sukhbir Badal, who is the deputy chief minister in his father's outgoing government, led the Akali Dal campaign from the front and was the most visible face of the party compared to his ageing father.

Party leaders are crediting him for the historic victory of the Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine in the assembly poll.

Beating the traditional anti-incumbency factor, the combine bagged a comfortable majority with 68 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly as results were declared.

It is for the first time in over four decades that a government has been able to return to power for a consecutive term in Punjab.

While the Akalis won 56 seats, the BJP bagged 12 seats.

The Congress, which was hopeful of returning to power this time, got only 46 seats.

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