Finding the Aam Aadmi Party going strong in the given political situation of Punjab, a desperate Shiromani Akali Dal has offered seven parliamentary seats to the BJP out of a total of 13 constituencies in the state, but then would it help the Badals to find its moorings, is the million dollar question.
From historically being a senior alliance partner of the BJP during the last 25 years, the SAD is now ready to become a saffron party’s junior partner which is ready to contest only six seats as proposed.
Proving that brothers would always be brothers, Sukhbir Badal, president of the SAD, approached his once estranged first cousin, the former finance minister, Manpreet Singh Badal, to convey the alliance request to the BJP. Not to mention here, Manpreet, along with ex-CM Capt Amarinder Singh and other Congress ministers of the previous Congress government, jumped onto the BJP bandwagon as they were hounded by the anti-corruption police agency, the Vigilance Bureau, obviously on the directions of incumbent CM Bhagwant Mann.
Pushed to the corner for its alleged surreptitious handling of Guru Granth Sahib’s sacrilege of 2015, the SAD is finding it very difficult to escape the continuing anger of the people of Punjab. However, it had offered a conditional apology at the Akal Takht sahib, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs. Sukhbir appeared before the Akal Takht sahib, saying to the effect, “If we are thought of having committed any blunder (the sacrilege) Waheguru ji, I seek apology from you and the ‘panth'”.
Instead of assuaging the hurt feelings of the Sikhs, the tone and tenor of Sukhbir’s apology further fueled peoples’ angst against the Badals and their party, as depicted in the social media posts. In utter desperation with the 2024 general elections looking in the face, the party first toyed with the idea of having an alliance with the controversial ‘Waris Punjab De’ led by Amritpal Singh Sandhu, who is at present lodged in Dibrugarh jail under the National Security Act (NSA). Three parliamentary seats were offered to Amritpal’s separatist outfit. However, the deal proved a still born baby, as reported by a web TV journalist in January which has not been contradicted to date.
The latest information pouring in is that Manpreet Badal and Captain Amarinder Singh together sought a meeting with BJP’s national president, J.P. Nadda, to discuss Sukhbir Badal’s offer, but they were told to wait till the penultimate session of the 18th Lok Sabha ended on February 10, 2024. A meeting on the subject is likely anytime this week, depending on the availability of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, a pointman of all-powerful Prime Minister Narinder Modi.
On the other hand, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal announced on Saturday, February 10, 2024, that the party would go alone in Punjab and not with INDIA league, during upcoming general elections. The Congress, having eight MPs in its kitty out of a total of thirteen, is marred by inner party dissensions as Navjot Sidhu continues to be defiant of the state leadership of the party by holding unauthorised rallies all over the state. One can not wish away the harmful effects of indiscipline, politically speaking.
Punjab observers feel the BJP may not gain from an alliance with the SAD as even single-handedly, it enjoys good chances to win at least three seats, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar. In the case of the alliance, one of the above three constituencies, the SAD has offered Sangrur to BJP-aligned SAD, Sanyukt’s Parminder Singh Dhindsa. In Sangrur, the Bhana Sidhu arrest controversy seems to have hit AAP hard, and the defeat of its candidate is a foregone conclusion.
The coming general election might be held in a staggered voting schedule spread over April and May 2024.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.