Shiromani Akali Dal seeks alliance with BJP in Haryana for assembly polls, wants 15 seats
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is seeking to contest 15 of the 90 assembly seats in Haryana in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming state elections.
The assembly polls are due in Haryana in October this year.
“We have asked our party president Sukhbir Singh Badal to take up the matter with the BJP so that we start working on the ground,” said Sharanjeet Singh Sotha, SAD’s Haryana unit president.
Talking to HT, Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala said, “The BJP will take up the matter (with SAD) at an appropriate time.”
However, the Akali Dal has already started counting its strengths in the state, claiming that around 30 assembly seats have sizeable Sikh population — from 45,000 to 65,000.
The SAD and the BJP have been in alliance in Punjab since the days of the Jan Sangh, the saffron party’s parent outfit. However, it would be for the first time that the two parties will be joining hands in Haryana, if the alliance works out.
Despite being the BJP ally in Punjab, the SAD had been contesting polls in Haryana in alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), headed by Om Prakash Chautala. But the INLD severed its ties with SAD in 2014 when the latter opposed the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna link (SYL) canal, which was to carry the river water from Punjab to Haryana.
In Punjab, BJP contested on 23 of 117 assembly seats and after the party’s good show in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, it is now demanding more assembly seats for state polls due in 2022.
Sotha said that in Haryana, Sikhs are in minority and they want due representation in the state. “We have met a large number of Sikhs and they are enthusiastic about our party.”
Speaking about SAD’s strength in Haryana, Sotha said there are five assembly seats in Sirsa, four in Fatehabad, and two each in Kurukshetra, Karnal and Ambala, where Sikhs have a sizeable population and the Akali Dal can make an impact.
He added Dabwali, Kalanwali, Rania, Ratia, Tohana, Guhla, Pehowa, Sadhaura, Assand, Shahbad and Ladwa have strong Sikh presence.
There are eleven Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) constituencies in Haryana, out of which eight have members of SAD.
In a meeting held with SAD’s top brass last week, the party’s Haryana unit asked it to clear air on the alliance and seat- sharing so that preparations could begin.
Rajya Sabha MP Balwinder Singh Bhundar, SAD in-charge of Haryana affairs, told HT that the BJP had sought the party’s support in Haryana in the Lok Sabha elections even as there was no proper alliance in the state.
“Our cadres worked hard and 90% Sikh votes in the state went to the BJP. Then they had said an alliance would be worked out later. We now hope to reach an alliance and a seat sharing arrangement with the BJP shortly,” he added. Barala admitted that the SAD worked hard in Haryana during parliamentary polls and supported the BJP, but an alliance with the party is yet to be decided.