Parkash Singh Badal will continue as CM: Sukhbir

Chandigarh: Putting at rest all speculation, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today declared that Parkash Singh Badal will remain the Chief Minister of Punjab, a post he would be holding for a record fifth time.

"I had declared it well in advance that Badal will be the Chief Minister," SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal told reporters at the chief minister`s official residence here. Sukhbir said that the swearing-in ceremony will take place on March 14.

On who all will be inducted in the Badal cabinet, Sukhbir said that a decision to that effect will be taken by the chief minister. He gave his father the credit for returning the SAD to power. "Under the leadership of (Parkash Singh) Badal, the state performed well and Akalis got victory," he said.

When his attention was drawn on who will become the next deputy chief minister, Sukhbir, who is currently holding the post, said that there was no confusion on the issue. "Both the SAD and the BJP will decide upon the post of Deputy Chief Minister," he added.

He thanked people of Punjab for reposing faith in the policies and programmes of the SAD and said, "The SAD-BJP alliance government will strive to fulfil the dreams of the people of the state.

"It is rule of people that has been retained in Punjab by the electorate," he said, adding that the verdict had sent a clear signal to political parties and leaders that whosoever will perform will lead the government.

Sukhbir rubbished the claims of the Congress and the People`s Party of Punjab (PPP) that coffers of the state were empty.

"Last time too the opposition tried to give this message but we generated resources to get revenue. I assure the people of the state that the SAD-BJP combine government will take the Punjab much ahead and bring it on first position in every front," he said.

On PPP founder Manpreet Singh Badal, estranged nephew of Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir said that he became MLA four times on Akali ticket and now after losing the polls, he is levelling baseless allegations against the SAD.

Manpreet had alleged that the SAD had used money power to return to power in Punjab.

"He (Manpreet) should accept the verdict of the people. Our target is to perform so well that the SAD-BJP government remains for the next 25 years," he said.

Sukhbir also said that the party`s future course of action will be decided at the core committee meeting to be held here. Senior Badal, meanwhile, appreciated the role played by his son in bringing back Akalis to power.

"Sukhbir played an excellent role and succeeded in bringing back Akalis to power," he said. A long queue of well wishers was present to greet the Badals at the chief minister`s official residence for the victory.