'BJP to be senior partner in Amarinder-Dhindsa merger'

'BJP to play role of senior partner in alliance with Amarinder, Dhindsa'

Former Punjab chief minister Singh and former Union Minister Dhindsa on Monday met the BJP top leadership

Amit Shah and Amarinder Singh (R). Credit: PTI Photo

The BJP is likely to play the role of senior partner in its alliance with Amarinder Singh's Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa's SAD (Sanyukt) in Punjab, and the coalition is unlikely to project any chief ministerial face in the run-up to the election, sources said on Monday.

Former Punjab chief minister Singh and former Union Minister Dhindsa on Monday met the BJP top leadership, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda here.

After the meeting at Shah's residence, the BJP's Punjab incharge and Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat formally announced that all three parties will contest elections and will come up with a common manifesto.

"A meeting attended by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president J P Nadda, Amarinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa was held here. And it was decided that the BJP, Singh's party and Dhindsa's party will jointly contest upcoming assembly polls in Punjab," Shekhawat told the media after the meeting.

Shekhawat said a joint committee will be formed comprising two leaders from each party to finalise a seat-sharing agreement and a vision document.

Asked about the chief ministerial face of the coalition, Shekhawat later told PTI that the election will be contested "under the collective leadership of the alliance".

"BJP usually contests election in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said, adding that the party does not project any face for the post of chief minister.

He also underlined that the seat-sharing agreement will not be based on the party's previous alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab.

"BJP is a national party which has won two Lok Sabha elections back to back and its base has expanded across the country so the alliance in Punjab will not be based on the seat distribution formula of its previous alliance with the Akali Dal in Punjab," Shekhawat said.

The minister also said the vision document will focus on all pending issues of Punjab and also of Sikhs.

Sources in the party said the BJP will play the role of senior partner in the border state and may contest more than of half the 117 seats.

BJP leaders expressed confident that with elections in Punjab becoming a five-cornered fight, with various farmer outfits having entered the fray in addition to the Congress, SAD and the AAP, will work in its favour.

Singh formed his own party, the Punjab Lok Congress, days after he resigned as the chief minister and quit the Congress.

Earlier, one of the BJP's oldest allies, the SAD, moved out of the NDA over the issue of farm sector laws. 

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