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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Certain things have to be forgotten, says Dhindsa on truck with Capt, BJP

In that meeting, a number of SAD (Sanyukt) leaders batted for an alliance with the AAP, as the opinion was divided whether to go with the BJP or with the AAP.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
December 28, 2021 7:47:29 am
Amarinder Singh greets Gajendra Shekhawat as Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa looks on, in New Delhi. Prem Nath Pandey

As the BJP on Monday announced three-party alliance for the next Punjab Assembly elections with former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhinda’s Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt), Dhindsa, who was apprehensive to come on board citing the perception about Amarinder, his alleged collusion with SAD and his rule of four years and a half as CM, on Monday said when there is an alliance, “certain things have to be forgotten”.

“When there is an alliance, certain things have to be put aside,” Dhindsa told The Indian Express over the phone, when asked about the earlier reservations by him and his party leaders over Amarinder. SAD (Sanyukt) is a breakaway faction of SAD, with Dhindsa as its chief who was a veteran SAD leader.
Amarinder, who was forced to quit as CM before he parted company with the Congress, had been claiming to be working on an alliance with the BJP and Dhindsa-led faction, something Dhindsa had been denying all along.

In October about a month after his ouster as CM, when Amarinder announced that he would launch his own party; was hopeful of a seat-sharing arrangement with the BJP; and was also looking at an alliance with Akali Dal’s breakaway faction SAD (Sanyukt), Dhindsa had said, “We are not thinking about any alliance till the farm issues are resolved.”

After two back-to-back meetings held in the backdrop of announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal farm laws, Dhindsa told The Indian Express last month that “many office-bearers have expressed their views that if the party considers an alliance with BJP, Captain Amarinder Singh should not be there in it as they accused Captain of being in collusion with the SAD”.

He had, however, added, “Our doors are open for an alliance. We will hold more meetings and depending upon feedback from the party cadre, we will take a call.”

In that meeting, a number of SAD (Sanyukt) leaders batted for an alliance with the AAP, as the opinion was divided whether to go with the BJP or with the AAP.

In the beginning of this month, former BJP national president Amit Shah during an interview at HT Summit said that the saffron party may go into elections with parties of Amarinder and Dhindsa. Reacting to that, Dhindsa had said, “We will think over that. I did not say yes, nor did I say no. We will think over it.”

Last week, 84-year-old Ranjit Singh Brahmpura who was SAD (Sanyukt) patron and who was among those opposed to have a truck with the BJP, returned to the SAD fold in the presence of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Akali patron Parkash Singh Badal.

The BJP’s alliance with Amarinder’s party is aimed at tapping the Amarinder loyalists in the Congress party and likely rebels after Congress announces tickets. Another common thread between the BJP leadership and Amarinder is that they have been pitching themselves as dyed-in-the-wool nationalists.

The apparent objective of BJP, which primarily counts on urban Hindu votebank, to rope in Dhindsa faction is to have an alternative to woo Sikh constituents in the state, for which it had earlier been counting on its former ally SAD led by Sukhbir Singh Badal.

As per senior SAD leader Sikander Singh Maluka, Dhindsa has had the backing of BJP which was working to create a parallel leadership to pin down the SAD.

Dhindsa was awarded Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in the country, in March 2019.
Unrelenting in questioning the leadership of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, Dhindsa was expelled from the party in early 2020.

He subsequently formed SAD (Democratic) and merged it with another breakaway faction SAD (Taksali) led by Brahmpura who had also trained his guns at Sukhbir for the party’s worst-ever debacle in 2017 elections where the SAD finished third winning only 15 seats in 117-member Punjab Vidhan Sabha. The merged party, led by Dhindsa, was named as SAD (Sanyukt).

Alliance arrangements
With 22 farm unions that were part of farm agitation against the three farm laws floating Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM), and declaring to contest all 117 Assembly seats in the state, the Punjab elections have become a five-cornered contest.

While AAP and Congress are going all alone in the elections, the BJP has tied up with parties of former Congress stalwart Amarinder Singh and former veteran SAD leader Dhindsa. The SAD, which contested the last four Assembly elections in alliance with the BJP, has tied up with the Mayawati-led BSP. Even as SSM has declared to contest on all 117 seats, talks are on that it may enter into pre-poll or post-poll alliance with the AAP which has already announced candidates on 73 seats.

In alliance with the BSP, the SAD is contesting on 97 seats and BSP on 20.

The three-party alliance of BJP, Amarinder’s Punjab Lok Congress and Dhindsa’s SAD (Sanyukt) will finalise seat-sharing arrangement following a six-member committee report having two representatives of each party. Dhindsa said, “Winnability will be the sole criteria to finalise the seat-sharing arrangement.”

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