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Amit Shah’s Chandigarh visit : Akalis to hold meeting to finalise issues to be raised

On Friday, Shah will hold a closed-door meeting with the Badals and would then meet the core group of the party.

punjab Updated: Jun 07, 2018 09:30 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Amit Shah,Chandigarh,Bharatiya Janata Party
BJP national president Amit Shah(HT File)

Before their meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah, who is arriving in the city on Thursday, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will hold a meeting of its top leadership to draw out a strategy and the issues to be taken up. The meeting is being seen as preparation for next year’s general elections. Other than seat-sharing, the SAD will draw up a list of other issues for the meeting.

In addition to former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, those invited for the strategy meeting include Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Gulzar Singh Ranike and Daljit Singh Cheema.

Shah decided to meet the allies, after Sukhbir met him last week, and suggested that he be seen with the allies more often, especially with the 2019 general elections on the horizon. On Thursday, Shah met Shiv Sena leaders in Mumbai and have also fixed a meeting with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, the president of the Janata Dal (United).

On Friday, Shah will hold a closed-door meeting with the Badals and would then meet the core group of the party. The Akalis, particularly Badal, enjoyed a good equation with the BJP when former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and LK Advani were at the helm of affairs in the party.

However, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking over as the PM and Shah being given the party reins, the Akali leadership felt distanced. With Shah coming down to Chandigarh, the Akali leadership is excited.

The SAD is one of the oldest allies of the BJP and had been associated, even with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. “The meeting will send a strong message countrywide that we are with our allies, small or big,” said a BJP leader on the condition of anonymity.

Though important in terms of perception, in terms of numbers the Akali Dal is a small ally for the BJP, as Punjab only has 13 Parliamentary seats. In the 2014 general elections, the SAD won only four seats, despite being in power in the state. The BJP had registered its protest for this below par performance then, vis-à-vis Modi’s thumping victory. The BJP had even set up a fact-finding committee to give a report. A section of the BJP had even demanded that the alliance with the SAD be ended. However, the SAD, particularly the Badals, managed to ensure that the alliance stayed intact.

“There are no issues as such to be discussed at the meeting. A real big benefit that will emerge is that it will motivate the cadre on both the sides (the Akali and the BJP),” said a senior Akali leader on the condition of anonymity.

First Published: Jun 07, 2018 09:27 IST