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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

BJP has reason to be SAD, party to contest polls alone as seat-sharing talks in Punjab fail

Apart from the farmers’ issue, the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership was also said to be circumspect about the renewed Hindutva assertion by the BJP using the Ram temple. This was indicated after a recent core committee meeting of the religious regional party

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 27.03.24, 06:14 AM
A video grab of Sunil Jakhar announcing that the BJP will go solo in Punjab.

A video grab of Sunil Jakhar announcing that the BJP will go solo in Punjab. Sourced by the Telegraph

The BJP on Tuesday declared it would go alone in Punjab and contest all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state after the party’s efforts towards a seat-sharing consensus with its former ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, came a cropper.

Chasing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of the NDA winning 400-plus seats, the BJP was keen on a poll pact, but the SAD backed out at the last moment fearing backlash from Sikh farmers, sources said.

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Punjab farmers have been agitating for a central law on minimum support price for their produce.

The SAD, one of the oldest allies of the BJP, snapped ties in 2020 over the now-scrapped contentious farm laws.

“In Punjab, we (the BJP) will be going alone in the Lok Sabha polls. This decision has been taken based on the opinion of the public in general and party leaders,” BJP Punjab president Sunil Jakhar announced in a video message on X.

Jakhar, a crossover from the Congress, dwelt on farmers and MSP in his message. “Everyone knows that every single grain of crop is being lifted on MSP from Punjab’s mandis and farmers have been getting money in their accounts within a week,” he said, seeking to address the agitating farmers.

This is the second instance of the BJP’s effort to win more allies in the general election getting spurned by a regional outfit.

In a similar move last week, the BJP declared to go solo in Odisha after protracted seat-sharing talks with the ruling BJD in the state collapsed.

The BJP has a very limited influence in Sikh-dominated Punjab, which accounted for its eagerness to woo the Sikh-centric SAD ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. State BJP leaders on more than one occasion termed an alliance with the SAD an “emotion of Punjab”.

Apart from the farmers’ issue, the Akali Dal leadership was also said to be circumspect about the renewed Hindutva assertion by the BJP using the Ram temple. This was indicated after a recent core committee meeting of the religious regional party.

“The party will continue to put principles above politics and will never deviate from its role as a champion of the interests of Khalsa Panth, all minorities as well as Punjabis,” Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal had said after
the meeting.

Allegedly, the BJP’s domineering attitude also played the deal-breaker in both Punjab and Odisha. Unlike earlier, the BJP bargained for a much larger share of seats this time, alarming the regional outfits that their territories were being encroached upon.

Cong MP in BJP

Congress MP from Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu joined the BJP after the latter announced to go alone in Punjab.

The BJP has been looking for credible candidates to field in the state. Bittu, a Sikh and the grandson of late Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, who was assassinated in a suicide bombing in 1995, appears to be a good catch.

Bittu hailed the Modi-Shah duo and said he joined the BJP to bring development to Punjab.

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