The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in much upset with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for its decision to support the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the October 15 Haryana assembly elections.
The SAD and BJP are running a coalition government in Punjab and the Akali Dal is also a key ally in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which has come to power at the Centre about four months ago. While BJP leaders in Haryana want the SAD to follow “political ethics and coalition dharma”, the SAD has already deputed its ministers and leaders for campaigning in different constituencies of Haryana.
“It’s a case of double standards, as the SAD is supporting the BJP at the Centre and in Punjab, but INLD in Haryana. Especially when Haryana elections is a high-stake contest for the BJP, SAD’s support to the INLD could prove suicidal for our party,” pointed out a BJP leader from Punjab who doesn’t want to be identified.
The Haryana BJP leaders have no qualms in raising the issue and have approached party’s national president Amit Shah registering protest over the SAD move.
According to Haryana BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma, he had met Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal (who is also patron of the SAD), asking him not to campaign in favour of the INLD candidates. “Instead he (Badal) should campaign for the BJP,” suggested Sharma who had approached Amit Shah and apprised him of the matter.
Similarly, Haryana BJP legislative group leader Anil Vij had also spoken to Amit Shah and wanted SAD leaders to play politics of ethics. “As claimed by Badal Sahib, he has personal relations with Om Prakash Chautala and would support INLD. I want to clarify that in politics there is nothing called personal, it’s all political and a fair game is played,” he suggested.
“The BJP in Haryana is not going to lose, without SAD’s help, but I feel when the BJP is forming government the SAD should support us,” Vij added and also told HT that Amit Shah has promised him to take up the matter with the SAD.
Speaking about SAD’s campaign in the Lok Sabha polls in support of the INLD earlier this year, Vij said the SAD was not able to do anything remarkable as the BJP won seven out of 10 seats in parliamentary polls and INLD could win only two.
There are nearly 8 lakh Sikh voters in Haryana and it is perceived that Badal plays a key role in swaying Sikh votebank in favour of a particular party. Sikh voters are in considerable numbers in over a dozen assembly constituencies in the Kurukshetra, Karnal, Kaithal, Ambala and Sirsa areas. But the BJP leaders say things have changed and Sikh voters apply their own mind and support the party, which would form government, and it is clear that the BJP would come to power in the state.
The SAD sees a huge political benefit after the Congress government created the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) after bifurcating the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), a moved opposed by the SAD.
The SAD would contest assembly polls from Kalanwali (Sirsa) and Ambala City seats on its symbol, ‘Scales’.
“We have an old alliance with the INLD in Haryana and the BJP had no issue with it in the past. Our fight is against the Congress not BJP,” clarified SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema.
Vij, however, pointed out that, “Badal Sahib should either support the BJP or should not campaign at all in Haryana. He must follow the coalition dharma.” He added that Badal is much respected leader in the NDA and the SAD is one of the oldest allies of the BJP.
The BJP has four MLAs in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha and it claims to make a huge leap to form government this time.