SAD to support BJP in Delhi Assembly polls

Patch-up: J.P. Nadda with Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday.

Patch-up: J.P. Nadda with Sukhbir Singh Badal on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Nadda visits Sukhbir Badal’s home

The BJP and its oldest ally, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), seemed to have made up on Wednesday. BJP president J.P. Nadda went over to SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal’s residence here for what was a patch-up meeting after the two parties fell out over the seat-sharing for the Delhi Assembly election.

Addressing a press conference with Mr. Badal, Mr. Nadda said: “One of the oldest constituents of the BJP-led NDA, the SAD has always been at the forefront of serving society. A strong coalition between the BJP and the SAD will remain intact.” He also thanked the SAD for deciding to support the BJP in Delhi, though its sitting MLA Manjinder Sirsa had been denied ticket.

The SAD had supported the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Parliament, but has consistently been stating — both in the House and outside — that the Muslims should be added to the list of communities under the Act.

When talks broke down between the BJP and the SAD over seat-sharing, Mr. Sirsa alleged that this was one of the reasons for the pact being broken.

Backing for CAA

At the press conference, Mr. Badal, however, clarified: “We never broke our alliance with the BJP. We were just considering the possibility of contesting separately. We have supported the CAA from the beginning and have consistently raised the issue of persecuted Sikhs in Pakistan and Afghanistan with the NDA government.”

The SAD had been given three seats in Delhi in the last three elections, but was kept out of the alliance this time, with the Janata Dal (United) getting two seats and the Lok Janshakti Party one.

According to sources, senior leaders of both parties, including Rajya Sabha members Naresh Gujral of the SAD and Bhupendra Yadav of the BJP, worked behind the scenes for the patch-up. “The fact is that Mr. Badal and the SAD are now the moderates in Punjab, and looking at the Congress government, it is necessary that the NDA alliance remain strong in the State. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has already flirted with extremist elements to gain political traction. So, the BJP and the Akalis could not part ways and yield space to such political forces that may even usher in extremist elements,” a senior NDA leader said.

“The BJP-SAD alliance was created to keep extremist elements out and panthic [Sikh orthodox] forces and the Hindu community together after the harsh years of extremism. It is necessary that this alliance continue for the sake of Punjab,” the source said.

In a significant move, therefore, it was Mr. Nadda who went over to Mr. Badal’s residence, despite the SAD being a smaller party, to soothe tempers.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 3:14:30 PM |

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