Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) are yet to reach an understanding over seat-sharing in the Delhi assembly polls, Sikh leaders in both the parties are making such an arrangement tougher for the two NDA partners.
Sikh leaders in the BJP are demanding the same seats on which SAD (Badal) has set its eyes. Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar and Hari Nagar are three seats in west Delhi in which Sikh voters are a deciding factor.
In 2008, the SAD (Badal) had contested on four seats and lost all of them.
The SAD (Badal), which has been fighting elections in Delhi as part of the BJP, has been negotiating with the BJP leadership to allow it to field candidates on three seats. But the Sikh leaders in the BJP said they had been ignored in the decision-making process.
Sources said the Badal group was talking tough, especially after its success in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee elections in which it won 38 of the 46 seats.
SAD (Badal) candidate Avtar Singh Hit contested the 2008 assembly election from Rajouri Garden and lost by a narrow margin of 46 votes. The BJP, however, fielded its candidates in Tilak Nagar and Hari Nagar and won both.
With Harsharan Singh Balli, BJP’s four-time MLA from Hari Nagar assembly segment is unlikely to contest this time, both the SAD (Badal) and Sikh and non-Sikh leaders of the BJP have staked their claims for the seat. Balli, said sources, is trying to get ticket for his family members.
Tilak Nagar, which is said to have the largest Sikh population in Delhi, is currently represented by OP Babbar. While Babbar is seeking the party ticket for his son this year, Sikh leaders in the BJP wants the party to field its own candidate.
“It is important to field a Sikh candidate to polarise votes against the Congress. Wrong selection of candidate may cost us that seat,” a senior BJP leader said. The Congress is likely to field pop singer Daler Mehndi from Tilak Nagar.
“There are 6.34% Sikh voters in Delhi and the party should acknowledge their presence. The other seats where we have sent our recommendation to field Sikh candidates include Jangpura, Timarpur, Rajendra Nagar, Shakur Basti, Gandhi Nagar and Chhatarpur,” said BJP’s election committee member RP Singh.