After concerns were raised over “lack of coordination” in the NDA, BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday met Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders at his residence and discussed with them the joint strategy for the Punjab polls slated early next year.
SAD chief and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal later trashed talks of strains between the two parties, calling the alliance “permanent” and claiming there were “no differences” between them.
Sukhbir, who had raised the issue of coordination at NDA’s meeting on Monday, met Shah along with senior Akali leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Naresh Gujral and spent over an hour with him.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley was also present at the dinner meeting.
“The Akali Dal and BJP are like one party and would not just contest the next election together but also elections in next 20 years. We discussed with the BJP chief the strategy on how to win the next election and would soon form a core committee to work on it and help improve coordination between the alliance partners,” Sukhbir told reporters after the meeting.
Asked about any change in seat-sharing formula, he said there could be swapping of some seats but BJP would contest 23 and the Akali Dal the remaining out of a total of 117 assembly constituencies in the state. Badal also rejected as “media speculation” talk of any rift between the two parties.
The issue of alliance between the two parties had come up
at the core committee meeting of BJP held at Jaitley’s residence on Saturday where some leaders had expressed apprehension over its continuance.
Apart from the Congress, the ruling alliance will be up against the AAP, which has emerged as a force to reckon with in the state.
Sukhbir had on Tuesday sought better coordination in NDA and said the allies should not be taken “for granted” as they have stood with BJP through thick and thin.
During the meeting, Shah was learnt to have raised the issue of rising acrimony between BJP and Akali leaders in certain parts of Punjab and stressed on their working in tandem to strengthen the alliance.
In Tuesday’s NDA meeting, it was decided that party-to-party issues will be discussed bilaterally and there would be frequent interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on developmental matters.
NDA MPs would also be briefed periodically about various important initiatives, central schemes and assistance extended to states.