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Allies SAD, BJP seal Lok Sabha seat deal in Punjab

Of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the SAD will field candidates in 10 and the BJP, the remaining three, Amit Shah announced shortly after a meeting with SAD leaders Sukhbir Badal and Naresh Gujral at his residence in New Delhi.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 01, 2019 07:30 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
lok sabha elections,LS polls,2019 LS polls
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cemented a pre-poll alliance with its long-time ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab for the 2019 general elections, with the two parties deciding to stick to their 2014 seat-sharing formula, BJP chief Amit Shah said on Thursday.(PTI)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cemented a pre-poll alliance with its long-time ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab for the 2019 general elections, with the two parties deciding to stick to their 2014 seat-sharing formula, BJP chief Amit Shah said on Thursday.

Of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state, the SAD will field candidates in 10 and the BJP, the remaining three, Shah announced shortly after a meeting with SAD leaders Sukhbir Badal and Naresh Gujral at his residence in New Delhi.

The SAD won four out of the 10 seats it contested five years ago, while the BJP won two out of the three. The BJP lost the Gurdaspur seat to the Congress in a by-election last year.

The alliance between the BJP and the SAD is more than two decades old, but there was some tension between them earlier this year after the Akali Dal accused the BJP government in Maharashtra, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikh community over a leadership dispute surrounding gurudwara Hazur Sahib in Nanded.

Hazur Sahib is one of the five holy takhts (thrones) in Sikhism and is recognised as the place where the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, breathed his last.

The SAD, which stayed away from a meeting of National Democratic Alliance’s constituents on January 31, also said that the Maharashtra government was not taking enough measures to provide relief to debt-ridden farmers.

But the two sides resolved their differences over the last few weeks after Shah reached out to Sukhbir Badal and assured him that the dispute related to Hazur Sahib would be resolved.

“There was an agreement between the two sides that they remain together in the larger interest of Punjab and the country,” said a BJP leader familiar with the negotiations who asked not to be named.

“The BJP also accepted the status of the Akali Dal (as the dominant party in the state) to finalise a seat-sharing agreement amicably.” The alliance with the Akali Dal in Punjab comes within days of the BJP announcing a pact with the Shiv Sena in the Maharashtra and the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu.

‘Thug-bandhan’

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Sherrill said the BJP-Akali Dal alliance is classic case of 0+0 = 0 (zero plus zero = zero). The BJP-Akali “thug-bandhan” stands already rejected by people of Punjab as evident from state assembly elections and now they will witness worst defeat in 2019 polls.

“The BJP ship is sinking at a fast pace and now no political arithmetic, permutation and combination can rescue from the tsunami of people’s anger. Voter of Punjab will punish this alliance through ballot as they now want freedom from BJP-Akali anti-Punjabi, anti-farmer, anti-youth, anti-women , anti-trader mindset,” he said.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 23:35 IST