The seat sharing between the BJP and the SAD for the Batala municipal council (MC) elections has become a bone of contention between the alliance partners with both parties demanding a minimum of 26 seats out of the total of 35 seats.
SAD Batala halqa in-charge Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal has recently raked up a controversy by demanding 26 seats for his party candidates, which is backed by district SAD president (urban) Subash Orhi.
Orhi claimed that as the Batala assembly seat was given to the SAD the last assembly elections, the SAD should lead the local politics, and thus, SAD candidates would contest on 26 seats and hold the post of MC president as well.
Meanwhile, state executive committee and former district BJP president Naresh Mahajan said Orhi was an active worker of the BJP till 2011, but during the last assembly elections he supported Congress candidate Ashwani Sekhri, but when the SAD-BJP alliance formed a government in Punjab, he shifted his loyalty to the SAD.
Launching a seething attack on Ohri, Mahajan said: “A leader of Orhi’s caliber has no right to involve in such big issues and he should consult his party election in charge Bibi Jagir Kaur before giving such statements.
Mahajan said since 1998, the SAD-BJP alliance was jointly fighting the municipal elections as per an understanding that the BJP will contest on 26 seats, while the SAD will fight on 7. By demanding 26 seats, SAD leaders were trying to brak that understanding, he said.
Mahajan said what Lodhinangal and Ohri were saying was a “figment of their imagination” and in a no way SAD would succumb their pressure.
Meanwhile, Orhi said considering his working, the SAD had given him the post of district president and it was his moral duty to strengthen the party. He said “only after consulting the party high command that he was raising the issue”.
Earlier, the council had 33 seats, but after delimitation it was increased to 35. Interestingly, when the House had 33 seats, the BJP got 26 under a seat-sharing agreement with the SAD.
“The demand of contesting on 26 seats and the claim to make a SAD candidate an MC president indicates that both parties are moving in opposite directions. With both parties are adamant on their stand, a break-up instead of a patch-up is on the cards,” said a former minister.