Allies in Punjab have turned foes in Haryana. The Shiromani Akali Dal, ruling Punjab in alliance with the BJP, is supporting the Indian National Lok Dal, the BJP’s rival, in Haryana.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy Sukhbir Badal, his son, cite family ties that go back four decades. Sukhbir has been campaigning for INLD candidates, while the senior Badal is likely to do so on April 8, the last day of campaigning.
The senior Badal shared a strong bond with INLD founder Chaudhary Devi Lal and their families have been close politically and socially.
Kuldeep Bishnoi, chief of BJP ally Haryana Janhit Congress, is fuming. He is contesting from Hisar but found Sukhbir Badal accompanying Chautala scion Dushyant, Bishnoi’s archrival, when he filed his nomination.
Bishnoi is upset with the BJP, too. Narendra Modi did not campaign in Sirsa and Hisar, the two seats the HJC is campaigning. At his Kurukshetra rally, Modi made no mention either of Bishnoi or the HJC. In 2009, the BJP had tied up with the INLD in Haryana; the change of partner followed INLD the conviction of INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay.
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What has angered Bishnoi further is that the lone SAD MLA in Haryana, Charanjit Singh, is contesting on an INLD ticket against the HJC’s Sushil Indora in Sirsa. Bishnoi says the Badals have “backstabbed NDA”.
Though top BJP leaders seem to have ignored the HJC, the state unit has taken note of the SAD’s political move in the garb of “family ties”. “The state unit has taken it up with the central leadership,” BJP state president Rambilas Sharma said.
Sukhbir and INLD leaders held election meetings in four constituencies — Sirsa, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Ambala. The BJP is contesting against the INLD in three of these seats, the exception being Sirsa.
Sukhbir acknowledges the SAD is in alliance with BJP in Punjab, but cites the family ties with the Chautala family and says supporting the INLD amounts to a war against the Congress. “We have strong family relations with the Chautalas and will continue it,” Sukhbir said at a rally in Sirsa.