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BJP to contest 65 seats in Punjab; ally Amarinder gets 37, Dhindsa 15

Amarinder says when he was Punjab CM “someone from Pakistan” had wanted him to include Navjot Singh Sidhu in his cabinet

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: January 25, 2022 1:28:32 am
Punjab Assembly elections 2022, JP Nadda, Modi, Narendra Modi, Congress, 1984 ani-Sikh riots, BJP, Punjab BJP, Chandigarh news, Chandigarh, Indian express, Indian express news, Punjab newsBJP president J P Nadda. (File)

The BJP Monday announced its seat-sharing formula with the two allies in Punjab, saying the campaign for the February 20 Assembly polls will focus on “stability, security and change to secure the future of Punjab and its people”

While the saffron party, keen on expanding its ground in the state, will contest the majority 65 seats in the election to the 117-member Assembly, the Punjab Lok Congress led by former CM Amarinder Singh will fight from 37 constituencies. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s Sikh-centric Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) will contest the remaining 15 seats.

Announcing the plan at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Monday, BJP president J P Nadda said the ‘Grand Alliance’ will fight not just for “a change of regime but to keep the future generation safe, and for the stability of Punjab”. Flanked by Amarinder and Dhindsa, Nadda said Punjab is in “a deep economic crisis” and needs a “double engine government” to push it on the path to development.

The BJP chief alleged there have been attempts at the “western border areas” to disturb and disrupt the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take the country towards progress and development”.

“Punjab is a border state, for the security of the country, it is necessary to have a stable and strong government in Punjab. We know how Pakistan’s actions have been for our country. We have seen there that there are attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons,” Nadda said. “It is always the intention of the anti-national forces that there should be activity through Punjab in this derailing.”

While Dhindsa said his party had decided to join the BJP alliance to “stop the mafia” in Punjab, Amarinder said he had joined hands with the saffron party for the “sake of stability of the country and also the security of the nation and the state.”

Amarinder reiterated that during his term as Punjab chief minister, there had been several incidents of smuggling of weaponry, ammunition and drugs from across the border. “All these for carrying out nefarious activities,” he said.

He also spoke of how, when he was CM, “someone from Pakistan” had wanted him to include cricketer-turned-politician and now Punjab Congress president, Navjot Singh Sidhu, in his cabinet.

“After I dropped Navjot Sidhu from my government, I got a message from Pakistan that he is an old friend of their prime minister (Imran Khan) and he would be grateful if you can keep him in the government. If he (Sidhu) doesn’t work, then you can remove him,” Amarinder said.

Amarinder, who had dropped Sidhu from his cabinet during his tenure as the state chief minister, never had good relations with him. He was also against Sidhu’s appointment as the Punjab unit chief of the Congress.

“He was inefficient, incompetent and useless,” Amarinder said.

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