BJP, SAD face-off in Haryana

Allies in Punjab, they are on different sides next door

The realignment of political equations in Haryana ahead of the general elections has led to a face-off of sorts between good old allies, the Akali Dal and BJP.

Regardless of its alliance with the BJP in Punjab, the Akali Dal will campaign against the BJP in Haryana.

The uncanny situation cropped up since the BJP entered into an alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) overlooking the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana. 

The Akali Dal, which has shared a good rapport with the INLD since long, could ill-afford not to support INLD, even if it meant discomforting its ally BJP in Punjab – its home state.

As campaigning picks up, while SAD leaders including deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal are campaigning hand-in-hand with the BJP in Punjab, the two allies will oppose each other in Haryana.

The posturing is nowhere covert. Sukhbir Badal even drove down all the way to register his presence at the time Dushyant Chautala – the grandson of former CM Om Parkash Chautala (now in jail) – filed his nomination as a party candidate.

In fact, sources say the SAD leadership in Punjab tried hard to work out a ‘break-up’ of alliance between the BJP and the HJC, which eventually didn’t happen. 

The idea behind the exercise was to get the INLD on board, making it a party of the NDA. 

The INLD and the BJP have earlier been allies in Haryana but severed ties.  

Despite the BJP preferring the still-young HJC, the INLD has strategically decided to keep its options wide open. 

The INLD has announced its unconditional support for Narendra Modi as the next Prime Minister, despite the fact that the INLD and the BJP are opponents on the same political turf in Haryana.

Political experts feel the option of a post-poll alliance, or even outside support to the NDA, could be a possibility once the final results are announced.

The INLD patriarch 

OM Parkash Chautala and SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal have shared a long friendly equation, which is why the SAD leadership is prepared to go out of the way to support the INLD, even if it means discomforting its own saffron party ally. 

The INLD has not won a single seat in the LS elections in the last decade. The scene has been entirely dominated by the Congress which has nine out of 10 LS seats.

The INLD vote share plunged to just about 15 per cent in 2009 general elections. 

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