Chandigarh/Delhi: The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) may demand more seats from ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Assembly elections in Delhi.
Stating that the “winnability” of candidates would be crucial, the party leadership said aspirants from eight-nine constituencies in the national capital have sought tickets.
Newly elected president of the party’s Delhi unit, Sardar Harmeet Singh Kalka, hinted at contesting from more seats in the upcoming elections. He told News18, “It is too early to say. I won’t be commenting on it right now, but we have received biodatas from party workers of around eight to nine constituencies in Delhi. The final decision would be taken after talks with our alliance partner.”
On Monday, party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was in Delhi, constituted a three-member high-level committee, comprising MPs Balwinder Singh Bhundur, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Naresh Gujral, to hold talks with the BJP over seat-sharing issues. Veteran SAD leader Avtar Singh Hit would work as party patron in the national capital.
In a statement, Badal said, “The committee would hold discussions with the Delhi BJP unit as well as the central leadership to ensure smooth coordination between alliance partners during the ensuing Delhi elections. We will fight in coalition with the BJP as it our old ally.”
Senior Akali Dal leader and Rajouri Garden MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said, “The BJP and Akali Dal know well that to form a government of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Delhi, winnable candidates have to be fielded. The candidates who are demanding tickets from us are being surveyed. If we think they are deserving, we would try to ensure a ticket for them.”
Sirsa had won the by-election from Rajouri Garden in 2017 on a BJP symbol, raising the tally of the BJP in the 70-member Assembly to four. The seat had fell vacant after AAP’s Jarnail Singh quit as MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly poll against SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal.
In 2015, SAD had unsuccessfully contested on four seats in Delhi. Two of them — Manjinder Singh Sirsa (Rajouri Garden) and Avtar Singh Hit (Harinagar) — had contested on SAD symbol, while Harmeet Singh Kalka (Kalkaji) and Jitender Pal Shanty (Shahdara) were BJP candidates.
Asked if the SAD would contest only on its symbol this time, the party president said, “The newly formed election committee will decide on the issue. I will not comment on that”.
The SAD has also formed a 16-member working committee to “take decisions regarding formulation of policies and programmes in Delhi”. The party’s high command had dissolved its units in Delhi, UP and Rajashtan in December 2018.
“The rest of the organisation will be recommended by the working committee to the high command and decisions will be taken accordingly,” Badal added. During the Haryana Assembly elections late last year, the BJP-SAD alliance had run into rough weather after the BJP denied more seats to the SAD.