It was a historic Sunday for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) as it has achieved its goal of making inroads into the Delhi assembly by winning three of the four seats it contested in the national capital.
The party of peasants and Sikhs, which completes 93 years of existence on December 20, won the first ever assembly seat in Delhi on its own symbol 'scale'. Sunday's victory on its symbol in Delhi is the second outside Punjab; in the 2009 elections, the party had won a seat in Haryana.
Taking no chances, the SAD had fielded two of its candidates on the BJP symbol 'lotus'. The SAD leaders who contested on the BJP symbol are Harmeet Singh Kalka from Kalkaji and Jatinder Pal Singh Shanty from Shahdara. Both emerged victorious.
SAD, a member of the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP, contested the Delhi elections in alliance with the BJP. Of the 70 assembly seats, the SAD contested on four and the BJP on the rest.
With the BJP winning on just below the halfway mark at 33 seats, the SAD will play a vital role in the formation of the BJP government. In such a situation, the SAD would ask for at least one minister in the cabinet and would push for even more, said sources.
SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal and president Sukhbir Singh Badal were actively involved in campaigning, addressing about a dozen rallies each. The party ran intensive and strategic campaign with senior leaders as in-charge of each constituency. During election campaign, both leaders harped on the issue of development -- replicating Punjab's development model in Delhi, especially in the constituencies represented by Akali candidates. The SAD focused on Sikh population, which is in considerable numbers at Rajouri Garden and Hari Nagar, besides on slums.
A number of senior leaders from the party, including Punjab ministers, MPs and MLAs besides a large number of party workers actively campaigned in Delhi."It's an historic event," said SAD's Delhi affairs in-charge Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema.
SAD Delhi chief Manjit Singh GK said no other regional party except the SAD had won seats in the Delhi polls. After winning the Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Management Committee polls in January, the SAD called winning the three assembly seats as its second consecutive victory in the national capital.
A political expert said the SAD had lost the Hari Nagar seat because of its own shortcoming as it had fielded a weak candidate, Shyam Sharma, a sitting councillor, from there. The constituency with a high percentage of Sikhs, elected Aam Aadmi Party's Jagjeet Singh.