Old Punjab allies to forge new alliance in Haryana

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal met working president of the BJP a few days ago to discuss the nuances of the alliance.

Allies for decades in Punjab, yet this ensuing elections in Haryana will be the first when the BJP and the Akali Dal (Badal) come together to enter a pre-poll alliance.

The Akali Dal has long preferred to ally with Chautala clan-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Assembly polls in Jatland. However, both the parties severed ties over divergent stands on the issue of the controversial SYL canal issue.

While a formal announcement for the alliance between the Akali Dal and the saffron party in Haryana is expected anytime soon, this pre-poll pact will offer the Punjab party a tactical advantage given that the INLD is suffering from its falling political stock with each day in passing.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal met working president of the BJP a few days ago to discuss the nuances of the alliance. Seat sharing is turning into a bone of contention. Sources said, the Akali Dal is ‘insisting’ on 20 seats to contest. The BJP has asked the Akali Dal to be ‘reasonable’ in its approach and instead settle for 2 seats. Haryana has 90 Assembly seats.

Akali Dal claims that it holds sway over voters in at least 25 Assembly segments that have a sizable number of Sikhs who could play a decisive role. The recent developments on reopening of 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases under the Modi regime post the conviction of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar has earned the Akali Dal some degree of credibility among Sikhs.  

The imminent alliance is being dubbed as a coalition of convenience with both parties. Akali Dal and the BJP have manifested conflicting stand on the SYL issue, yet they are now poised to contest the elections side by side.

Akali Dal rhetoric has long been centred around the assertion that Haryana cannot claim right over Punjab waters based on the riparian principal. The BJP in Haryana is banking on the Supreme Court judgment to stake its right to claim the waters.

Amid the Apex court now firmly asking both states to amicably settle the dispute, the reaction and statements of Akali-BJP leaders canvassing in Haryana remains to be seen. The Akali Dal had won 1 seats in 2014.

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