UNFAZED by reports that Punjab BJP leaders conveyed a mixed message to their party bosses on their alliance, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders say their ally has no other option in the state. A top SAD leader told The Indian Express on Monday that the party was not bothered by the BJP’s complaints against it. “The truth is that the BJP on its own has little standing in Punjab. So, it is a foregone conclusion that the BJP would continue the alliance with us,” the SAD leader said.
During the day, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and SAD president Sukhbir Badal also participated in a meeting of NDA allies in New Delhi, called to discuss floor strategy for the coming Budget session. Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, and Rajnath Singh were at the meeting besides BJP president Amit Shah. It was held at Naidu’s residence.
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Sukhbir is learnt to have demanded better co-ordination in the alliance ahead of the Punjab polls. Shah is expected to hold a meeting with the SAD leadership on Tuesday where he is likely to raise the BJP’s concerns. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Shah had met Punjab BJP leaders on Saturday for a sounding on the party’s alliance with SAD in the ensuing Assembly polls.
As far back as in May 2015, on a visit to Amritsar for a party function, Shah had tried to assuage the resentment against SAD among the state BJP cadre, saying the solution to their grievances was to strengthen the state unit.
“Mujhe malum hai aapke dil mein kya dukh hai kya dard hai. Uska bhi raasta niklega. Kaam pe lage rahen (I know what pain you feel in your heart. That issue would be taken care of. Keep on working),” Shah had said, adding that “panacea to all pains was in taking BJP’s lotus to every village, booth and locality in Punjab”.
Praising the state BJP for enrolling as many as 23 lakh members in the state during party’s membership drive, Shah said then that the destination was still far away and “the seed the BJP had planted in Punjab would grow into a big tree”.
As for SAD, its general secretary and MP Prem Singh Chandumajra told The Indian Express on Monday that alliances were not forced. “Gathbandhan taan dil mileyan de mele hunde ne (Alliances are formed when two parties agree with each other). They are need -based. Any alliance, whether it is political or social, is driven by an analysis of profit and loss. Alliances are not formed under any compulsion,” he said.
“As far as the BJP meeting on the alliance is concerned, every party reviews its policies. We have no objection to that. We have a long association with the BJP and we do not think any situation has developed where the alliance could be ended. There might be some differences or objections which can always be sorted out,” Chandumajra said.
At the Express Adda recently, Sukhbir Singh Badal had said: “The relationship between the Akali Dal and the BJP is good for the nation. We are a border state. Ours is the only state where whatever may happen in the country, you’ll never hear of a riot, religious conflict or caste conflict.”
He had also made it a point to mention that “the BJP may have had many allies, but the only one which has never ever questioned it or set forth a condition was the Akali Dal”. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also swears by the alliance and has been stating that ensuring communal harmony was one of the high points of SAD-BJP alliance.