A day after state BJP party affairs incharge Ram Shankar Katheria targeted alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) hinting that the saffron party was ready to contest the next assembly polls in the state on its own, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday said the SAD would keep its options open and decide according to the situation at the time of election.
The chief minister, who was here to attend a function related to Gurpurb celebrations, when asked if the SAD was ready to contest the election alone in such a scenario, said, “I don’t want this to happen. But if the BJP leaves us, what is the alternative?”
Badal said, “Earlier also, the SAD has contested many polls alone. And let me tell you, the SAD is not a khidona (toy). We are the oldest party in the country after the Congress. We have a vast history of making sacrifices to save the country and to ensure peace in Punjab. The kind of sacrifices our party has made, no one else has done. The party has produced legendary leaders like Master Tara Singh and Sant Fateh Singh.”
The chief minister said the SAD’s main concern was to maintain communal harmony and peace in the state, for which they were making every possible effort. He said the SAD was committed to safeguarding the interests of the state and would make no compromise on this count. When asked why the SAD alone could not maintain communal harmony and why did it need the BJP, Badal said the question should also be asked to the BJP.
The chief minister said, “I don’t know what the BJP state leadership or the Punjab incharge has said. I am sure the media has exaggerated it since their central leadership has assured us of keeping our relationship intact. Have Jaitley or Amit Shah ever said so? Then what is the issue?”
Asked about the repeated statements by BJP state chief Kamal Sharma, the chief minister said he was astonished at the statements by certain state BJP leaders.
“Whatever we do as a government, the BJP has an equal responsibility in it as we keep them in the loop. As far as statements by the state BJP leaders are concerned, I urge them not to do so for the sake of maintaining communal harmony in the state,” Badal said.
The chief minister hoped that all issues of the alliance partner would be settled amicably and there was no point in stretching them. “I sincerely wish we continue with the alliance. Even the BJP leadership feels that during crisis, the SAD had stood by them.”