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Badal stakes claim to form govt.

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ON A STRONG WICKET: Shiromani Akali Dal president Prakash Singh Badal coming out of Punjab Raj Bhavan, after submitting the list of legislators supporting him, in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
ON A STRONG WICKET: Shiromani Akali Dal president Prakash Singh Badal coming out of Punjab Raj Bhavan, after submitting the list of legislators supporting him, in Chandigarh on Wednesday.

Staff Correspondent

No differences over Deputy Chief Minister post, say BJP, Akali leaders

CHANDIGARH: Claiming the support of 67 newly elected MLAs of the Akali-BJP combine and Independents, Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal called on Punjab Governor S. F. Rodrigues at the Raj Bhawan here on Wednesday, to stake his claim to form the government in the State.

Mr. Badal, who was unanimously elected as leader of the alliance, handed over a letter of support and urged the Governor to invite him to form the government.

He also handed over another letter, signed by the senior leaders of both the parties, declaring that he had been elected combined leader of the Legislature groups of both the parties.

This letter was signed by BJP's central Observer M. Venkaiah Naidu, general secretaries Arun Jaitley and Thawar Chand Gehlot and the party's State unit president Avinash Rai Khanna. The signatories from Shiromani Akali Dal included party secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and general secretaries Kanwaljit Singh and Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Mr. Badal told reporters that the swearing-in ceremony was scheduled for March 2, at the PCA cricket stadium in Mohali, the venue he chose 10 years ago back.

Both Mr. Badal and BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley dismissed reports that there were differences over allotting the Deputy Chief Minister post to the BJP, as the issue had not been discussed at the appropriate fora.

They sought to stress that there were no differences and that the alliance would complete its tenure as last time.

Subsequently, the 19 MLAs of the BJP met at the party's office and elected former Minister Manoranjan Kalia as the leader of their group in the House.


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