The Delhi unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), just months away from the assembly elections, is staring at its crisis in recent years.
After a a handful of its minority workers defected to the Congress - feeling uncomfortable with the elevation of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as head of the party’s poll campaign - and Aamir Raza Husain’s resignation as vice president, it is now the turn of the party’s Sikh leaders feeling “left out and suffocated”.
The displeasure of the Sikh leaders has surfaced at a time when senior Delhi leaders have been found missing from the party’s campaign in the run up to the Assembly elections.
The BJP has an ally in the Siromani Akali Dal (Badal) in Delhi and Punjab for the past few years and the two parties have fought municipal, Assembly and Parliament elections together in the past few years.
“By leaving a few seats for Akali Dal, the party thinks that it has catered to the interest of the Sikhs in Delhi. There are several Sikhs in the BJP who feel ignored,” a senior Sikh leader said.
In the 2012 municipal elections, the BJP contested on 266 of 272 seats while the Siromani Akali Dal (Badal) fielded its candidates on six seats.
“The BJP did not give tickets to even a single Sikh leader. The party initially shortlisted two Sikhs but later gave the ticket to some non-Sikh person. The Siromani Akali Dal (Badal) let Hindu leaders fight on its party symbol,” said another Sikh leader associated with the party for more than a decade.
Delhi has a little more than six percent registered Sikh voters. Of the six Sikh MLAs in the Assembly, the Congress has five and the BJP has one.
While there are about 10 Assembly segments, which are dominated by Sikh voters, the BJP left just four seats to the Akali Dal in 2008 elections. The Akali Dal lost all the four seats.
Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel said the party is giving more importance to Sikh leaders than ever before. “We have two Sikh leaders as office bearers in the state executive. We also had one of the biggest meetings with Sikh workers,” Goel said.