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Monday, July 26, 2021

2022 Punjab assembly Polls: Rebel Akalis not averse to alliance with AAP, but have some reservations

The SAD(U) came into existence in May this year and was was formed following the dissolution of the SAD (Taksali), which was established by Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Seva Singh Sekhwan and the Shiromani Akali (Democratic) that was launched by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his son Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Chandigarh |
June 23, 2021 3:17:21 am
Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa

As Punjab heads towards the Assembly elections, due early next year, the Aam Admi Party, looking to revive its fortunes, may find an ally in the Shiromani Akali Dal (United), a party that is now home to several senior leaders who walked out of the SAD but hold key to several constituencies, especially in the Majha region.

The SAD(U) came into existence in May this year and was was formed following the dissolution of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali), which was established by Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Seva Singh Sekhwan and the Shiromani Akali (Democratic) that was launched by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his son Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

The two outfits, both breakaway factions of the SAD led by Sukhbir Singh Badal, had in April announced that they will be dissolving the two parties to form a new political outfit that will also contest the next year’s Assembly election. Dhindsa was named as the president of the new outfit while Brahmpura is its patron.

The talk about the political outfit angling for an alliance with the AAP gained further credence as outfits top leaders reached Golden temple on Monday, minutes before Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal reached there. The outfit’s leaders initially termed the timing of their visit to the Sikh shrine as “coincidence”, but added that they are ready for an alliance with any party other than the Congress, SAD (Badal) and the BJP.

“At this moment, we are strengthening our new party and appointing office bearers at the district level. We are watching all the political activities such as the new formations and breaking of old. We are keeping a keen eye on everything. We are open to alliance with any party except Congress, SAD (Badal) and BJP. But right now we are not approaching anyone and nobody has approached us for serious talks,” said Dhindsa, while talking to The Indian Express.

With Dhindsa ruling out the three major parties, the SAD(U) is left with only a few options, including a truck with the AAP.

Few months ago, Dhindsa had met the AAP leadership in Delhi, raising the political heat back home in Punjab.

Dhindsa, however, said,”I just had tea with AAP leaders in Delhi. There was nothing more into it. We can’t say much at this stage. You know that new equations are forming before the elections and we are watching closely. We have said that we are open for alliance. There were some talks with AAP but there is nothing concrete so far. So it would be too early to say anything.”

Political experts say that an alliance between the AAP and the SAD(U) is very much possible. AAP still has no tall leader in Majha region, which is heart of panthic politics in state. There are 25 seats in Majha and AAP couldn’t win any in 2017. No big face from Majha has joined the AAP so far. Besides SAD(U) has leaders such as Brahmpura and Sekhwan in the region, who could be instrumental in making AAP a serious contender in Majha.

Also, the alliance with a Akali faction could provide credibility to the AAP while helping it secure the panthic vote bank. Most of the leaders in AAP are new to politics and not popular in core panthic vote bank spread across state with high concentration in Majha.

The two outfits, however, will have to iron out several differences before they plan to join hands.

AAP state convener Bhagwant Mann had defeated Dhindsa to reach parliament for first time in 2014. Mann had defeated Dhindsa’s son Parminder in 2019 Lok Sabha election. Mann and Dhindsa family have their respective core support in the Sangrur, Barnala and Patiala districts of Malwa region. The clash of political interests of Mann and Dhindsa family will be a big factor in alliance between SAD(U) and AAP.

Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema had earlier reacted strongly to rumours of alliance with SAD(U) after Dhindsa met the AAP leadership in Delhi in April. He had ruled out any possibility of alliance. His reaction was indication that state leadership had reservations against the alliance with rebel Akalis even as central leadership was negotiating the same.

Meanwhile, some voices had been suggesting that AAP wants SAD(U) to merge with it instead of forging an alliance.

Sekhwan ruled out possibility of any such merger. “We have come out of SAD with a mission. We have to save three Sikh institutions – Akal Takht, Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. We need to revive real Akali Dal. So there is no question of merger with any party. We are rebuilding Akali Dal to restore the glory of Sikh institutions,” said Sekhwan.

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