Even as a formal notification for the June 10 civic body polls is expected to be issued next week, the tug-of-war between Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP regarding their respective share of wards to be contested has already intensified.
Whiel the SAD has demanded at least five more seats for MC polls, the BJP today outrightly rejected the demand, asserting that there was no question of giving even a single more seat to the alliance partner.
"Last time, SAD contested 22 seats and BJP 38; out of which SAD won 14 seats and BJP 19 for power-sharing in the MC," former minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan told Hindustan Times, adding that the SAD had ever since strengthened itself in urban areas as well and deserved to contest at least five more seats.
"We have already identified five wards, which have dominance of rural and particularly Sikh voters, where the SAD is definitely in much better situation than the BJP", said the SAD incharge for Jalandhar MC polls.
He said that he had already held several rounds of talks with senior BJP leaders, including local bodies minister Bhagat Chunni Lal and local MLA Manoranjan Kalia, adding that they had in principle "agreed" to the SAD claim.
"Today also, I have specially come to meet senior BJP leaders, so that final decision on our demand could be made well before the notification of the civic polls," the SAD leader said, revealing that even the talks on swapping some seats accordingly were on.
However, contrary to the claims by Sekhwan, BJP incharge Manjit Singh Rai categorically denied any chance of giving any more seats to SAD and claimed that his party was capable enough to win a majority of MC seats it would contest.
"There is no question of giving even a single seat more to the SAD and Sekhwan should also be beware of raking up such demands before media as it may confuse the voters regarding the cordial relations between the alliance partners," Rai told HT.
"Yes, swapping of some seats cannot be ruled out on which discussion is at a final stage," Rai said adding that a long list of applications for BJP tickets was evidence enough about the craze of the saffron party among ticket-seekers and voters.
When questioned about Rai's assertions, Sekhwan maintained that the ruling alliance partners would be agreeable to whatever amicable decision was finalized on the share in seats.
It is pertinent to mention here that after the civic polls in 2007, fissures between BJP and SAD came into the open, when the SAD went all out to woo Independent winners and managed to take the number of winners in their camp to 21, one more than the BJP. Later, after the BJP reacted strongly, the SAD took a u-turn and denied roping in any Independent into the party fold.
In the 2002 civic polls, SAD under an agreement with the BJP was allotted 20 seats but could not find suitable candidates and ultimately contested 15 seats only.
This time, the morale of BJP cadre is very high as it won all three assembly segments in Jalandhar city and are confident of retaining power in the Municipal Corporation too.