Minister for Jal Shakti and BJP in charge for polls in Punjab Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Friday announced the finalisation of an electoral alliance between his party and that of former chief minister Captain (retd.) Amarinder Singh.
Capt. Amarinder had quit his chief ministerial post and broken away from the Congress to float a new outfit called the Punjab Lok Congress.
The alliance was announced after a meeting between Mr Shekhawat and Capt. Amarinder at the former’s residence in New Delhi and comes after seven rounds of talks between the two parties.
“Today I confirm that the BJP and the Punjab Lok Congress are going to fight the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections together. Topics like seat sharing will be discussed later,” Mr. Shekhawat said after the meeting. Capt. Amarinder said, “We (the alliance) are ready and we are going to win this election. The decision on seat sharing will be taken on seat to seat basis, with winnability being the priority. We are 101% dure of winning this election.”
Former Akali Dal leader, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa who broke away from the party to float the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) also met with Mr. Shekhawat after the latter’s meeting with Mr. Singh, and it is expected that he will be part of this new alliance as well.
Senior sources privy to discussions on the alliance told The Hindu that the BJP hopes that the new alliance, will make the contest four cornered and bring some advantages to the BJP.
The Punjab Assembly has a total of 117 seats. The BJP also, very clearly wants to fight an equal number of seats as its ally or even more, playing more a Big Brother role in this alliance, something they could not do with their former ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
One of the oldest alliance partners of the BJP, the SAD broke off from the NDA over the three contentious farm laws since repealed. Under the old arrangement, the BJP used to contest only 23 out of 117 seats with SAD contesting the rest. This time around, the BJP will push for far more seats, even for as many as 70 seats, in the new alliance.
The repeal of the three farm laws, BJP leaders say, has given the party some relief in terms of campaigning and moving about and to overcome what was becoming a heavy resentment against the party in the State.