SAD-BJP seat sharing pact to remain unchanged
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.