CHANDIGARH: Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch Parkash Singh Badal, 93, has been forced to step in following emerging contradictions in SAD’s alliance with the BJP in Punjab. A restive BJP wishes to fight 59 of 117 seats in the 2022 Assembly polls, though SAD has restricted it to just 23 as of now.
The ambitious demand comes amidst talks within BJP of severing the alliance and going alone. The BJP has already started a survey to underline seats where it has stronger presence. What has, however, boosted the SAD, are recent overtures by SAD(Taksali) leaders to rejoin, even as rebels — ex-MLA Amarpal Singh Bony and ex-MP Ratan Singh Ajnala — have rejoined the party.Insiders say, the patriarch has sensed a crisis on the back of Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa episode and the latter’s attempts to undermine SAD by getting dissenters together.
The SAD believes the freeze in SAD-BJP relations go back to Maharashtra under BJP, where the government interfered in gurdwara affairs to unsettle SAD. The refusal of BJP to part with seats in Haryana and Delhi polls also rankles the Akalis.At the Rajasansi rally, senior Badal insisted on a secular government with protection for minorities and an end to hate politics.
His stand forced the BJP to join a SAD delegation to the Governor to urge him to advise the state government to immediately withdraw the additional affidavit filed in the apex court supporting the Haryana government for creation of a separate SGPC. BJP leader Madan Mohan Mittal said it was impossible to defy senior Badal given his status but insisted that the party will be the senior partner in 2022 polls.