Delhi Assembly Polls 2020: Akali Dal resets stand on Delhi elections, now it again supports BJP
National Democratic Alliance got a shot in the arm on Wednesday with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) declaring its support for the BJP in Delhi Assembly Elections due on February 8.
News agency ANI quoted Shiromani Akali Dal Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, who said the SAD-BJP alliance was bound by more than just by politics.
“It is not just a political alliance. It is bound by emotions, for peace, the future, and interests of Punjab and the country. There were some misunderstandings that have been sorted out,” Badal said.
Badal’s announcement came during a joint press conference with the saffron party in New Delhi, which was also attended by BJP National President JP Nadda.
“The alliance with the SAD is the BJP’s oldest and the strongest. SAD has always come forward to deal with challenges concerning the nation and has always allied with the BJP. I am grateful to the party for extending their support to the BJP,” said Nadda, who was seated next to Sukhbir Singh Badal.
The BJP is hoping to mount a credible challenge to the incumbent, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and would now hope to unseat him with the backing of SAD supporters, mostly Sikhs, who can decisively swing the electoral fate of candidates in around a dozen constituencies in the 70-member Delhi Assembly.
Badal said SAD’s earlier decision to contest Delhi elections alone was due to a misunderstanding, that had now been sorted and that the alliance with the BJP was never in any real danger. The two parties had briefly separated due to differences over seat-sharing which had affected joint-campaigning in the run up to the polls.
“We never broke the alliance. We just decided to contest the election separately,” said Badal. He also clarified that his party stood with the BJP over the question of Citizenship Amendment Act, which has sharply divided opinions in the country and led to widespread protests triggered by fears that the law may be discriminatory against the Muslims. There have been murmurs of dissent even inside the NDA parties, like the JD(U), leading to the expulsion of two leaders—Pavan Varma and Prashant Kishor from the party.
“We’ve been supporting CAA from the beginning. We went to Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah for granting citizenship for Sikhs who have been subjected to persecution in Pak, Afghanistan,” Badal said.
SAD’s support base is largely among the Sikh community in Delhi, who constitute about five percent of Delhi’s population of over two crores, yet, they exercise considerable influence on politics and polls in the national capital, making political parties vie for the support of the community, believed to vote as a block.
There are about eight lakh Sikh voters in Delhi with their concentration varying across the 70 constituencies between 4,000 to 40,000 except for Rajouri Garden and Tilak Nagar, where it peaks at around 55,000, giving them the decisive edge.
The BJP, for the first time has also tied up with its Bihar allies and NDA constituents, Janata Dal (United) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) hoping it to translate into the support of the huge Purvanchali community, which is a dominant force in the city.