The much-awaited talks over seat-swapping between coalition partners Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seem to have ended before these could actually begin.
The recent announcement of SAD candidates from Mansa and Batala for the 2017 assembly polls have dashed all hopes of the saffron party that was eyeing these two seats to be exchanged with the Akalis.
It seems the two coalition partners will now contest the polls as per seat-sharing arrangement of 2012 assembly polls, when the SAD had contested 94 of the total 117 seats in the state and the BJP 23.
The BJP is expected to announce its candidates in the last week of December or in the first week of January.
The SAD has nominated Jagdeep Nakai from Mansa even as BJP’s Neeraj Tayal was gearing up to contest the seat this time.
Similarly, Jagdish Sahni of BJP has recently been quite active in Batala from where Akalis have fielded Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal. Interestingly, the local BJP cadre has decided not to support Lodhinanagal.
The BJP has also been demanding Barnala from where it planned to field senior party leader Harjit Singh Grewal, but the SAD is keen to nominate industrialist Rajinder Gupta from the constituency even as he has not given his consent yet.
Sources say the BJP had given a couple of options to SAD in lieu of Barnala. One of these is Rajpura in which Akalis are not interested. The BJP had also offered Ludhiana (West) and Abohar to SAD, but no decision has so far been made in this regard. In Rajpura, the BJP has no reliable candidate as its former MLA Raj Khurana is not keeping good health.
The saffron party was also willing to give Abohar to the SAD, which it wanted for liquor baron Shiv Lal Doda. But Akalis might not be keen on this seat now as Doda has been in jail since January over the lynching of Dalit man Bhim Tank.
The BJP’s Laxmi Bhado, Ram Kumar Goyal and Sandeep Rinwa are in the race for ticket from Abohar, but the party will find it tough to match the popularity of three-time Congress legislator Sunil Jakhar.
From Ludhiana West, BJP’s former state president Rajinder Bhandari is seeking nomination, but the party is not keen on him. Even the SAD seems to be not willing to take this constituency in exchange for another.
Also, Akali leaders in Hoshairpur were earlier demanding Dasuya seat where the BJP’s Sukhjit Kaur Shahi is the sitting MLA. The BJP was ready to exchange it with Garhshankar, but with the SAD fielding sitting MLA Surinder Singh Bhullewal Rathan from this seat again, there is no scope for swapping here too.
“Though we could not swap any seats with the SAD, it has not brought about any tension in the alliance, which is a good sign,” said a top BJP leader on condition of anonymity.
STRAP CHECKMATE With recent announcement of Akali candidates from Mansa and Batala, it seems coalition is headed for polls with 2012 seat-sharing arrangement
QUOTE Though we could not swap any seats with the SAD, it has not brought about any tension in the alliance, which is a good sign.
A top BJP leader