SAD-BJP seat shar­ing pact to re­main un­changed

The New Indian Express - - INDIA -

DIS­CUS­SIONS be­tween the Shi­ro­mani Akal Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on chang­ing the seat shar­ing ar­range­ment for their al­liance in the up­com­ing Lok Sabha elec­tions came to naught on Satur­day leav­ing the num­ber of seats for each party un­changed. Cur­rently, the SAD con­tests on ten LS seats and its saf­fron part­ner, con­tests on the re­main­ing three seats — Am­rit­sar, Gur­daspur and Hoshiarpur. At the first al­liance co­or­di­na­tion com­mit­tee meet­ing for the polls, which was at­tended by SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, state BJP chief Sh­wet Ma­lik and BJP in-charge of Pun­jab Cap­tain Ab­hi­manyu Singh, the saf­fron party pitched for more Lok Sabha seats, said se­nior func­tionar­ies who were privy to the dis­cus­sion. Ac­cord­ing to one of the func­tionar­ies said the BJP wanted to con­test from five seats this time, a de­mand which the SAD re­jected un­equiv­o­cally. For its part, the saf­fron party also re­jected SAD’s pro­posal to swap the Am­rit­sar seat with Lud­hi­ana and the Hoshiarpur seat with Ja­land­har. Af­ter sev­eral hours of dis­cus­sion, the lead­ers de­cided that the pre­vi­ous seat shar­ing ar­range­ment would re­main for the Lok Sabha elec­tions. SAD has been rais­ing the de­mand to con­test from the Am­rit­sar seat be­cause the holy city is con­sid­ered the re­li­gious cap­i­tal of Sikhs. While the Ja­land­har (re­serve) seat, con­tested by SAD, has a large chunk of ur­ban vot­ers tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­ered a saf­fron vote bank. The party has never won the Ja­land­har seat af­ter form­ing the al­liance. The SAD’s de­mand did get some sup­port from the BJP quar­ter in the form of Union Min­is­ter Vi­jay Sam­pla. Sam­pla, who won from the Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seg­ment in 2014, hails from Ja­land­har and nur­tures a po­lit­i­cal ca­reer from the in­dus­trial town con­stituency. The al­liance ruled Pun­jab for ten years be­tween 2007 and 2017 when it lost to the Congress.

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