January 21, 2020 2:28:00 am
The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance in the capital broke on Monday, with differences over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens prompting the SAD not to contest the Delhi Assembly polls.
SAD MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said his party will not fight the Delhi polls since it does not want the NRC to be implemented. “We welcome CAA but we never demanded any religion to be excluded,” he said.
“During our meeting with the BJP, we were repeatedly asked to reconsider our stand on CAA but we declined to do so. Shiromani Akali Dal is of the firm stand that Muslims cannot be left out of CAA. We are also strongly against the NRC,” Sirsa, who contested and won on a BJP ticket from Rajouri Garden seat in the 2017 bypoll, said.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal had earlier said that persecuted Muslims should be included in CAA.
“SAD-BJP has been a long alliance but when it comes to our core principle, which is welfare of people, there cannot be division in the name of religion and caste. So we preferred not to fight elections,” said Sirsa.
“We don’t want NRC to be brought and for people to stand in line and prove the credentials of their forefathers.”
BJP sources claimed seat sharing talks also had a role in the alliance falling apart. As reported by The Indian Express, the SAD is learnt to have been keen on six seats, while the BJP wanted it to go with its current tally of four. “Also, there were disputes over whose symbol the election should be fought on,” sources claimed.
The SAD had contested four seats in the 2013 and 2015 Assembly polls in alliance with the BJP — Hari Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Kalkaji and Shahdara. While the party won three seats in 2013, it lost all seats in the 2015 polls. Sirsa won the Rajouri Garden seat in a bypoll later.
A senior SAD leader said that at a recent meeting in which SAD chief Badal was also present, the party’s Delhi unit was asked to present this demand before the BJP.
The BJP-SAD alliance had seen a strain in Haryana, after the BJP inducted Kalanwali MLA Balkaur Singh into the party and the SAD announced it would contest the state on its own.
The BJP won 40 seats in the Haryana Assembly polls, as compared to 47 the party had bagged in the previous Assembly polls. It formed the government with the Jannayak Janta Party, which won 10 seats.
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