Disagreements over CAA, NRC; SAD to stay off Delhi poll fray
The announcement came hours after its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had conveyed to SAD leaders that an alliance would not be possible for the February 8 pollsUpdated: Jan 20, 2020 23:48 IST
Chandigarh The Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) declared on Monday that it would not contest elections for the national capital’s state assembly. The announcement came hours after its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had conveyed to SAD leaders that an alliance would not be possible for the February 8 polls. The bone of contention was the different view point the parties hold on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Leading up to Monday, senior leaders of the two parties had held three rounds of meetings over the past fortnight to resolve differences, but to no avail. BJP national vice-president Shyam Jaju had asked SAD leaders to soften their stand on the CAA and NRC and come out in support of the BJP.
“We chose to sacrifice our electoral interest for the minorities than compromise on secular principles,” Harmeet Singh Kalka, president, Delhi unit, SAD, told HT, after the party finally decided to stay away from elections after a two-hour meeting that party president Sukhbir Singh Badal chaired in Delhi.
“There is an ideological difference between the two parties on the CAA; the SAD wants the Muslims to be included in the Act. My party is also opposed to the NRC; this is something we can never support,” Kalka added.
Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who had even started campaigning from Rajouri Garden constituency for the third time, said the BJP had been pressuring him and his party leaders to support the CAA before the declaration of seats for his party’s quota. “The BJP was annoyed with my party’s leadership over its stand on the CAA and the NRC,” Sirsa added.
Before Monday’s developments, the BJP had kept four seats for SAD and even left open a window for a change of the constituencies. The party wanted to contest from Rajouri Garden, Hari Nagar, Shahdara and Kalkaji, claiming that the large proportion of Sikh population there was its strength. It is learnt that if the alliance had stayed, SAD would have offered to take Tilak Nagar in place of Rajouri Garden or Hari Nagar.
SAD, BJP alliance has ended: Congress
Chandigarh Punjab cooperation minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has said that the alliance of SAD-BJP had come to an end as the saffron party had put Akalis in their place by not even giving them a single seat in Delhi polls. “The Akalis are spreading falsehoods on their stand on the CAA. Manjinder Singh Sirsa says the SAD is against the CAA, but the party supported it in Parliament and even voted against the anti-CAA resolution that the Congress government passed in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha,” said several Congress leaders.
“SAD rebels led by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa forced the Akalis to step back from contesting the polls. If Akalis had contested they would have fielded candidates against the BJP, which would have meant sacking of Harsimrat Badal from the Union Cabinet.” They added that the BJP had demonstrated clearly that it held scant regard for the Akalis, as was demonstrated previously too when it had junked an alliance with them in Haryana.
Lashing out at Sukhbir-Majithia combine for making Akali Dal, ‘Khali Dal’, the Congress leaders elaborated that the way Taksali leaders were humiliated, clearly showed that Sukhbir and Majithia’s axis of evil had stifled all democratic voices.