CHANDIGARH: SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday said that a post of a deputy chief minister will be given to a person from the Hindu community if the SAD-BSP alliance comes to power in the state.
Badal said Punjab will have two deputy CMs if the alliance is voted to power in the assembly elections scheduled to take place next year.
He had earlier announced that one deputy CM post will be given to a Dalit.
He said this will make the SAD-BSP alliance, if voted to power, truly representative of the composite Punjabi culture and a symbol of unity, peace and communal harmony as espoused by former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Last month, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had formed an alliance for the 2022 Punjab assembly polls.
After a meeting of the SAD's core committee on Thursday evening, Badal said, "We understand that there are external forces which want to disturb the peace of Punjab by pitching communities against each other."
"We want to guarantee Punjabis that the SAD will continue to follow the policies of Parkash Singh Badal under which all religions were respected and honoured."
He said, "We are committed to keeping all communities together and it is with this in mind that the SAD has decided to have a representative from the Hindu community as a deputy CM once it secures power in Punjab," he said.
Badal said he had already announced -- on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar -- that the SAD would offer the chair of a deputy CM to a Dalit once voted to power.
He said Punjab has the highest population of Dalits vis-a-vis other states and it was felt that more efforts should be made to protect their interests.
"Earlier also it was the SAD which had extended the maximum social welfare benefits to the Dalit community when in government," he said.
The SAD president said the decision to have two deputy CMs was in consonance with "the liberal secular ethos of 'Sarbat da Bhala' (well-being of all) handed down to us through the rich heritage of the great Gurus".
"It is also symbolic of the strong emotional bonds that bind the different communities together."
Badal also said in the forthcoming Parliament session, the SAD would move an adjournment motion demanding the three agricultural laws be repealed.
He appealed to all political parties to support the SAD in this endeavor.
He said the party would continue to raise its voice for the farmers till all their grievances are resolved.