Ahead of Delhi polls, BJP strengthens ties with allies
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday managed to mend their ties that had come under strain owing to differences over the amended citizenship act resulting in the Akalis opting out of the Assembly elections in Delhi.
On Wednesday, BJP president J P Nadda and SAD’s Sukhbir Singh Badal addressed the media jointly and said they would make a collective pitch for the Sikh votes in Delhi.
Describing SAD as an old ally of the party that has always stepped up to support the BJP on issues of national interest, Nadda who drove to the Badal residence with party general secretary Bhupender Yadav, said the parties continue to remain old and strong allies. He said whenever the NDA has been in power, all issues related to the Sikh community have been addressed.
For his part Badal said the alliance between the two sides was not called off, even when the SAD decided not to contest the elections with the BJP.
“There were some misunderstandings that have been sorted out. SAD extends full support to the BJP in the upcoming Delhi polls,” he said. He also referred to the BJP-SAD alliance as one that is in national interest, and “meant for Punjab, its people and the Sikhs across the country.”
In a deviation from his earlier stand on citizenship amendment act (CAA), when he urged the government to reconsider leaving out Muslims from the legislation that fast tracks citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Badal said, “We have always supported the CAA as it directly affects the Sikhs who suffered at the hands of Taliban in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. We had twice approached the home ministry to grant citizenship to these Sikhs who had been waiting for years.”
With the SAD on board, a senior BJP functionary said, the party has now strengthened its social-equation cross castes and communities. “The party has been conducting small and big meetings and reaching out to people, but now it has strengthened bonds with all castes, be it the Jats, the Purvanchalis, the Gujjars and so on,” the party functionary said.
Senior leaders of the party, including the president JP Nadda are also expected to show up for the rallies by Bihar chief minister and JDU leader Nitish Kumar in Delhi next week in a bid to scotch rumours of differences with the other ally.
The renewed camaraderie comes at a time when the BJP has severed ties with one of its oldest ally, the Shiv Sena and there have been murmurs of discomfort with the other allies as well.