Amritsar : Even as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have decided to jointly contest the 2017 assembly polls, SAD president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal here on Thursday ruled out any change in the seat-sharing arrangement between the two parties.
“The BJP would continue to contest on 23 assembly seats (out of 117) in the state,” he said after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple. The saffron party is apparently keen on renegotiating the old seat-sharing agreement so that it gets more seats for its candidates.
The SAD president, who met BJP chief Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the alliance’s future, said, “We will continue to contest elections together. It won’t be limited to the 2017 polls.”
When asked about Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu and other BJP leaders’ opposition to continuing with the Akali-BJP alliance, the deputy CM opted to remain tight-lipped. He also did not comment on BJP leaders’ stand against the SAD candidate in the Khadoor Sahib bypoll.
Talking about the SAD plans for the 2017 assembly polls, Sukhbir said the party would give adequate representation to the youth and field some fresh faces.
On the Khadoor Sahib bypoll, he said it was unprecedented that opposition parties, including the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, had pulled out of the contest as they feared a crushing defeat.
Commenting on comedian Gurpreet Ghuggi’s entry into AAP, he said this party was “good only for entertaining people”.
Replying to a question about Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh’s ‘Pagri Sambhal Kisana’ campaign for farmers, the deputy CM quipped that it was a golden chance for Amarinder to tour villages, which he had not done during his tenure as CM.
Sukhbir said if the Captain was serious about his initiative, he should wake up early like chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and hear people’s grievances.
SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh, municipal corporation commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal, subdivisional magistrate Rohit Gupta, SGPC member Amarjeet Singh Chawla, Navdeep Singh Goldy and others were also present on the occasion.
Parliamentary board will decide: BJP
When contacted, BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh said any decision on seat-sharing with the Akalis would be taken by the BJP’s parliamentary board. “I should not comment on this issue since we have already talked to our national president (Amit Shah) in this regard during a recent party meeting in New Delhi,” Chugh said.
The Punjab BJP had reportedly told Shah that the party was under-represented in Punjab and wanted to contest on more seats.