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SAD leaders to meet today, will take call on campaigning for BJP

By Risha Chitlangia
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2020 10:40 PM IST

New Delhi: Senior leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will hold a meeting with party’s Delhi unit Wednesday to decide on whether to campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the assembly elections scheduled on February 8.

While the BJP has stepped up its campaign, the Akalis are not participating in any of the rallies, including those of Union home minister Amit Shah.

After the two allies fell apart over seat-sharing for Delhi assembly polls, senior Akali leaders in Delhi said they have consulted the ‘Singh saabs’ (local units of Sikh body in Delhi) on the issue.

SAD leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, said, “We have held consultations on this matter with our Singh saabs in Delhi and will communicate our decision to the party leadership Wednesday. A final decision in this regard will be taken by the party leadership.”

Although the Sikh vote in Delhi is just 5-7%, it plays a crucial role in at least 11 assembly segments, including Rajouri Garden, Hari Nagar, Moti Nagar, Kalkaji, Greater Kailash, and Jangpura, among others.

The Akalis, in the past, have contested from Rajouri Garden, Hari Nagar, Kalkaji and Shahdara. “This is the first time since 1993, that the BJP is contesting without us. The party used to get the Sikh vote because of us. If SAD doesn’t campaign, it will definitely have an impact,” a senior Akali leader, requesting anonymity, said.

When contacted, BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh said the Akalis are with the BJP but refused to comment on whether they will campaign or not. A senior BJP leader, aware of the developments, said talks are on between the two allies over campaigning. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal is in Delhi to discuss the matter.

The BJP, which doesn’t have a strong base among the Sikh community, has relied on Akalis to win over the community. While reiterating that the Akalis are still with them, Chugh said, “We (BJP) has fielded the maximum number of Sikh candidates. All our candidates are strong in their respective constituencies.”

The BJP, for the first time, has tied up with Janata Dal (United) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in a bid to woo the Purvanchali community, which has emerged as a dominant force in the city. The BJP has given three seats to the two allies.

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