Following a meeting of the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday, it was decided to field four Akalis in the February 7 Delhi assembly polls. The announcement came a day before the last day of filing nominations, January 21.
From Rajouri Garden, Manjinder Singh Sirsa will contest on the SAD symbol ‘scales’ while the other three will contest on the BJP’s symbol ‘lotus’. These candidates are Avtar Singh Hit from Hari Nagar, Harmeet Singh Kalka from Kalkaji and Jatinder Pal Singh Shanty from Shahdara. Except Hit, all three were elected MLAs in the 2013 assembly polls.
Two Akalis face a stiff competition from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates. Sirsa’s rival Jarnail Singh is an ex-journalist who shot into fame when he hurled a shoe at then Union home minister P Chidambram in 2009. Hit is contesting against AAP ex-MLA Jagdeep Singh. Both being Sikhs and the two constituencies (Rajouri Garden and Hari Nagar) having considerable Sikh population would make things tough for the SAD.
In the 2013 polls, two Akalis had contested on the symbol ‘scales’ and two on the BJP’s ‘lotus’.
Sham Sunder Sharma, who was made to join the SAD from the BJP to contest on the symbol ‘scales’ had lost to Jagdeep Singh in Hari Nagar. Hit, who remained president of the SAD’s Delhi unit, is a native of Hari Nagar.
“There is a change in strategy this time; we have an Akali candidate fighting on the BJP symbol from Hari Nagar,” said SAD Delhi unit president Manjit Singh GK. The SAD insisted on contesting the Hari Nagar seat on its own symbol, but the BJP turned down the plea, but accepted the SAD’s proposal of contesting from Hari Nagar and not changing their seat with Timarpur or Tilak Nagar as proposed by the BJP.
BJP president Amit Shah has not attended the meetings that took place between SAD-BJP leaders. Sources said Akalis held talks through finance minister Arun Jaitley. “We got what we wanted, so what if we did not meet Shah,” SAD Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujaral told HT. He hoped the Delhi elections would bring an end to the rough patch between the BJP and SAD.