RIYASTI AKALI DAL, representing Sikhs living in the princely states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot and Malerkotla, was set up in 1939 as a political forum parallel to the Riyasti Praja Mandal 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 Akali workers, about 500 of them, met in Gurdwara Singh Sabha at Sarigrur on 25 Bhadori 1996 Bk/10 September 1939 and decided to form a separate party which they called Shiromani Malva Riyasti Akali Dal. A working committee comprising the following was elected: President Jathedar Pritam Singh Gojran (Patiala) Vice-President Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh Thuhi (Nabha) General Secretary Giani Kehar Singh of Chakk (Malerkotia) Secretary Bhai Harnam Singh Khalsa (Jind) Cashier BhaiJhanda Singh ofJawahar Ke, Mansa (Patiala) This heralded the emergence of a new political setup the Riyasti Akali Dal.

In their basic policies there was nothing much to differentiate the Riyasti Akali Dal from Riyasti Praja Mandal.Both stood for more democratic rights and a representative form of administration. After Independence (1947), the Riyasti Akali Dal led by Jathedar Pritam Singh Gojran cooperated with the Riyasti Praja Mandal in bringing pressure on the princely rulers of Punjab to relax their systems of administration. Jathedar Gojran for instance was not satisfied with the “concessions” announced by the Maharaja of Patiala on his birthday in January 1948. It especially looked askance at the formation of Lok Sevak Sabha, a proruler lobby at Patiala.

The Riyasti Akali Dal welcomed the formation of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) in opposition to the Praja Mandal`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 Riyasti Akali Dal melted away; it had become redundant, most of the cadre returning to the ranks of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

References :

1. Walia, Rainesh, Praja Mandal Movement in East Punjab States. Patiala, 1972
2. Dilgeer, Harjinder Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal. Jalandhar, 1978