Chandigarh: BJP president JP Nadda on Wednesday said its ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which had decided not to contest the Delhi Assembly polls over differences with the saffron party, will support his party in the elections.
At a joint press conference with SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Nadda hailed the party as an old and strong ally, while Badal asserted that their alliance is not merely about politics but also about a bond of sentiments.
The Akali Dal's decision to not contest the polls had triggered concerns in the BJP that it may alienate a section of Sikh voters.
Nadda held a long meeting with Badal before addressing the press conference.
Badal said the SAD-BJP coalition is not a political one. "This is an emotional coalition and in the interest of the future and peace of the nation and Punjab. We don’t have any give-take issues," he said. "There was a communication gap, which we have sorted out by sitting together."
While announcing the party’s decision not to contest the Delhi polls, SAD leader and Rajouri Garden MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa earlier this month said, "We have opted out as we refused to change our stand on including Muslims in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)."
He said the Akali Dal was asked to reconsider its, but had refused to do so. The decision to opt out of contesting the polls with the BJP had come on the day when Nadda had taken over as party president.
Badal on Wednesday reiterated his party's stand that the SAD supported the CAA as it was in the interest of the Sikhs.
"We never broke the coalition. We just announced that we will not contest the polls," he said. "We have been in support of the CAA from the very beginning. Sikh minorities have faced persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan and we have been constantly raising our voice for granting citizenship to these people."
The development comes close on the heels of estranged SAD leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and other Taksali leaders meeting Nadda in Delhi on Tuesday over a possible alliance between the BJP and Safar-E-Akali Lehar — a group of splinter factions of the SAD.
Earlier on Wednesday, former DSGMC president and ex-SAD leader Manjit Singh GK also extended his newly-formed outfit's support to the BJP in Delhi.
Interestingly, even as the SAD had announced not to contest the Delhi elections, the decision had caused a rift within the Delhi unit as many members owed their allegiance to the BJP.