There is a deadlock between coalition partners Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) over seat sharing in the forthcoming assembly elections in Delhi on December 4.
Under the coalition arrangement, out of 70 seats in Delhi, the SAD will contest four. After a series of meetings at different levels, the partners are unable to reach a consensus on two seats in west Delhi: Rajouri Garden and Tilak Nagar.
The coalition has high hopes of winning both seats, as Sikh voters comprise 50% of the electorate there. The SAD has conveyed to the BJP that it will contest both seats, while the BJP is willing to give it only one.
"The Sikh population in these constituencies is 1.10 lakh (60,000 in Rajouri Garden and 50,000 in Tilak Nagar). Both are winning seats, so we don't want to give away any," said a senior Akali leader involved in seat-sharing negotiations with the BJP.
The 11-lakh Sikhs in Delhi comprises about 9% of the 1.5-crore population of the national capital. Sikhs in Delhi votes for the Congress usually, but this time, since the SAD (Badal) has just won the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections, the BJP see a hope swaying Sikh votes.
From the SAD, party president and Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal; Delhi-unit president and DSGMC head Manjit Singh GK; and Delhi in-charge Balwant Singh Ramowalia had talks with former BJP president and Nitin Gadkari (now party's man in charge of Delhi); leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj; leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley; and BJP's Delhi-unit president Vijay Goyal.
"Our party is serious about contesting on own symbol on four seats and hopes to break the deadlock," said Manjit Singh GK. In the previous elections in 2008, the SAD had contested only on one seat on own symbol. Avtar Singh Hit, party's candidate from Tilak Nagar, had then lost to the Congress rival by just 16 votes.
For the other two seats, the SAD can pick from Preet Vihar in east Delhi, Kalkaji in south, Temar Nagar and Adarsh Nagar north, and Rajinder Nagar in central. Main contenders for ticket include DSGMC general secretary and Delhi's Youth Akali Dal president Manjinder Singh Sirsa, former SAD Delhi-unit president Avtar Singh Hit, Ravinder Singh Khurana, Onkar Singh Thapar, Mandeep Kaur Bakshi, Capt Inderpreet Singh, Jatinder Singh Shanty, and Harmeet Singh Kalka.