RIYĀSTĪ AKĀLĪ DAL, representing Sikhs living in the princely states of Paṭiālā, Nābhā, Jīnd, Farīdkoṭ and Mālerkoṭlā, was set up in 1939 as a political forum parallel to the Riyāstī Prajā Maṇḍal which had been in existence since 1928 and which had till then represented the people living mainly in the southern districts of the Punjab. After the introduction of provincial autonomy in 1937 the people living within the territories of Indian princes were becoming more conscious of their political rights. The rural population did not feel quite comfortable amid the growing influence of communists in the villages. In the urban areas a new class with equally strong vested interest was emerging. Leading Akālī workers, about 500 of them, met in Gurdwārā Siṅgh Sabhā at Saṅgrūr on 25 Bhādoṅ 1996 Bk/10 September 1939 and decided to form a separate party which they called Shiromaṇī Mālvā Riyāsāt Akālī Dal. A working committee comprising the following was elected :
President —Jathedār Prītam Siṅgh Gojrāṅ (Paṭiālā)
Vice President —Bhāī Gurbakhsh Siṅgh Thūhī (Nābhā)
General Secretary — Giānī Kehar Siṅgh of Chakk (Mālerkotlā)
Secretary — Bhāī Harnām Siṅgh Khālsā (Jīnd)
Cashier — Bhāī Jhaṇḍā Siṅgh of Jawāhar Ke, Mānsā (Paṭiālā)
This heralded the emergence of a new political set-up—the Riyāstī Akālī Dal. In their basic policies there was nothing much to differentiate the Riyāstī Akālī Dal from Riyāstī Prajā Maṇḍal. Both stood for more democratic rights and a representative form of administration. After Independence (1947), the Riyāstī Akālī Dal led by Jathedār Prītam Siṅgh Gojrāṅ co-operated with the Riyāstī Prajā Maṇḍal in bringing pressure on the princely rulers of Punjab to relax their systems of administration. Jathedār Gojrāṅ for instance was not satisfied with the "concessions" announced by the Mahārājā of Paṭiālā on his birthday in January 1948. It especially looked askance at the formation of Lok Sevak Sabhā, a pro-ruler lobby at Paṭiālā. The Riyāsti Akālī Dal welcomed the formation of the Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) in opposition to the Prajā Maṇḍal's demand for the merger of the princely states in the Punjab. The Dal accepted the amalgamation of PEPSU with the Punjab in 1956, though it did demur at the government's dilatory attitude in regard to the working of the Regional Formula. With the abolition of princely states, however, the Riyāstī Akālī Dal melted away; it had become redundant, most of the cadre returning to the ranks of the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)