The ruling Akali-BJP alliance may have announced to fight the civic elections together but issues have started to crop up in Batala, where Akali halqa in-charge Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal has stated that his party would contest 26 of the 35 municipal seats.
Before delimitation, when the seats here were 33, the Bharatiya Janata Party had contested 26 under the seat sharing-agreement with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). However, Lodhinangal, who is said to be upset with some senior BJP leaders over some reasons, has staked his claim to 26 this time, which will leave the partner to contest the remaining nine.
"Just before the 2012 assembly elections, the Batala assembly seat that the BJP had earlier contested was given to the SAD, which now should lead the local politics," Lodhinangal told HT here on Wednesday. Besides 26 seats, Lodhinangal also eyes the chairmanship of the Improvement Trust. "Earlier, the BJP appointed its man as chairman and bow since the Batala Vidhan Sabha seat has been given to the Akalis, we'll have our man as next chairman," he said.
BJP district president Suresh Bhatia, however, not only ruled this out but also said that since the wards had increased to 35, the BJP would like to contest 28 seats, leaving the Akalis only seven seats to fight. "In 2012, when Batala was given to the SAD, it had not disturbed the municipal set-up, so we will contest 28 seats as earlier," Bhatia added.
After Lodhinangal has asserted himself, Bhatia has taken the matter to state BJP president Kamal Sharma. "If need be, I will also talk to Gurdaspur member of Parliament Vinod Khanna," he said. If both SAD and BJP stick to their stand, Batala may become the bone of contention.