The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) on Saturday finalised its candidates for the four seats of Hari Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Greater Kailash and Shahdara . The Bharatiya Janata Party had decided not to contest these seats.
After two long meetings in which the issue was deliberated upon, the Pradesh Core Committee of Delhi unit of SAD (Badal) handed over the list of four names to party national president Sukhbir Singh Badal, upon whose final approval the names would be announced.
As per the list, the party has decided to field its Delhi unit general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa from Hari Nagar, senior leader Avtar Singh Hit from Rajouri Garden, Delhi unit president and president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Manjit Singh G.K. from Kalkaji, and and Jitender Singh Shunty from Shahdara.
Party sources said the SAD (Badal) is most likely to field its candidates from Hari Nagar and Rajouri Garden in West Delhi on its own symbol, which is the weighing scale, while it will contest the South Delhi seat of Greater Kailash and the East Delhi seat of Shahdara on BJP’s symbol “lotus”.
Incidentally, the ticket distribution exercise, which till two days ago appeared to be an easy task for the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) after the BJP had left the four seats for it, became one of mental math and intrigue as two major developments came into play.
Party sources said the rebellion by four-time BJP MLA and former Minister Harsharan Singh Balli against the party following the denial of ticket to either him or his son, made the SAD (Badal) sit up and take note. However, after deliberations on the issue, the party decided to go ahead with its initial plan to field Mr. Sirsa from Hari Nagar .
The party leaders also took into account the general sentiment among the Sikhs following Mr. Balli’s resignation from the BJP. His resignation came to be associated with Sikh pride as he was the only MLA from the community in the BJP and is respected across the party lines.
In fact, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley and leaders of several Akali groups met Mr. Balli. While Mr. Jaitley wanted him to reverse his decision to resign from the party, the various Akali leaders either commiserated with him or tried to woo him to their respective party fold.
Among the Akali leaders who met Mr. Balli were Jasjit Singh U.K. of Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi-U.K.).
Jagjit Singh Bindra, general secretary of SAD (Badal), said though he is a member of the party he was against the manner in which the ticket of a senior Sikh leader Mr. Balli was cut by the BJP just to meet the demands of its political ally. He alleged that some SAD (Badal) leaders were trying to weaken the Sikh community and for their own personal gains have even decided to sell the party quota seats to non-Sikh candidates.
Mr. Singh’s reference was to Rajouri Garden from where senior BJP leader and leader of South Delhi Municipal Corporation House Subhash Arya had expressed his desire to contest on the SAD (Badal) symbol.
However, SAD (Badal) did not field Mr. Arya and decided to go with Mr. Hit, who had lost the 2008 Assembly election by a narrow margin of just 46 votes. Incidentally, last time, Mr. Hit was the only one among the four Akali candidates to contest on the “taraju” symbol.
In South Delhi’s Kalkaji, the party has fielded Mr. Manjit Singh who is likely to take on senior Congress leader and former Speaker Subhash Chopra. The BJP had opted out of this seat as it could not find a suitable opponent for Mr. Chopra.
Across the Yamuna in Shahdara, Jitender Singh Shunty would once again try to oust senior Congress leader and former Minister Narendra Nath to whom he had lost by 1,536 votes last time.