The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to leave ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) only one seat, of Rajouri Garden, when it announces its candidates for the Delhi assembly elections on Monday.
The absence of the local Akali leadership from the campaign rally of BJP president Amit Shah at Hari Nagar in Delhi indicates no formal seat-sharing talks yet, and the shadow of the Punjab drug racket investigation on the campaigning has increased the SAD worries, since the name of its minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, has cropped up.
Senior Akali leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia sounded worried on the seat-sharing issue on Sunday as he confirmed over telephone from Delhi: “No formal meeting (on seat-sharing) has happened yet. We want the same arrangement as last time when we contested two seats on our symbol and two on the BJP sign.”
The SAD this time is under heavy opposition from the local BJP leaders in Hari Nagar constituency, where the saffron cadres have projected Harish Khurana and Harsharan Balli as probable candidates instead of an Akali nominee.
Shah’s Hari Nagar rally was a strong signal to the Akalis that they were being shown the door from there, as there was no mention of them in the entire speech.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa, SAD legislator from Rajouri Garden and the only Akali to attend Shah’s rally on Saturday, also confirmed that the BJP was keen on Hari Nagar. “The SAD would like a candidate from Tilak Nagar or Timarpur now, if the BJP agrees. Party president Sukhbir Singh Badal has conveyed our message to the BJP central leadership,” he said.
BJP aspirant Harish Khurana banks on the legacy of his father, former Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana, for the ticket. He confirmed that the party would gain if it contested the Hari Nagar seat on own symbol. The seat is with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is using the Majithia case as an issue to attack both the Akalis and the BJP.
Sirsa and SAD Delhi unit president Manjit Singh GK said they expected the senior Akali leadership from Punjab to come down to Delhi after the BJP was out with its list. With even the Congress raking up the Bhola drug racket and its Akali links, it remains to be seen whether the BJP will take them along for canvassing.
Sirsa acknowledged that the Punjab drug racket probe was an issue in the Delhi elections. “But we are telling voters that the allegations against Majithia and other senior leaders are not proved yet,” he said. January 21 is the deadline for filing nomination papers.