Amarinder Singh bats for BJP’s alliance with Akali Dal

Chandigarh, Feb 19 : Ahead of the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP leader and two-time Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Monday that he is in favour of an alliance of his party with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), once a long-time partner of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Amarinder Singh claimed in an interview with a news channel that even Punjab BJP President Sunil Jakhar is in favour of the alliance.

“I will also discuss this issue with the Prime Minister,” the veteran politician said.

Regarding distribution of seats between both the parties, he said the matter would be discussed by the high command.

“If the BJP and the Akali Dal come together, no one can defeat us,” he said.

On the demands of the protesting farmers, including the legal provision of the minimum support price (MSP) for crops, Amarinder Singh said he would discuss them and other issues related to the state with the Prime Minister.

Amarinder Singh’s assertion came days after the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) announced the termination of its alliance with the SAD in Punjab.

In the last Assembly polls held in 2022, the number SAD legislators in the 117-member House was reduced to three, down from its tally of 15 seats in 2017, its lowest-ever number.

Amarinder Singh and Jakhar, both former Congress leaders, are prominent rebels.

Snapping over two-decade long ties, the Akali Dal pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in September 2020 after sharp differences emerged over the now-repealed three controversial farm laws.

The Akali Dal was one of the oldest allies of the BJP. It was among the first to support the 13-day Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, the shortest Prime Minister’s stint in India’s history, in 1996.

To rebuild the beleaguered Akali Dal and prevent further exodus of leaders, SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, who was known as the ‘Super Chief Minister’ when the party was at the helm, is on his toes.

His wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who held the portfolio of Food Processing Industry in both the Modi-led Central governments, is raking up state-specific issues in the Parliament.

The husband-wife duo won the parliamentary polls in 2019.

Supporting the cause of the farmers, Harsimrat Kaur demanded the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) bring in legislation guaranteeing MSP for all the 23 crops in the forthcoming budget session in case the Centre doesn’t do so.

Talking to the media in Bathinda, her constituency, Harsimrat Kaur said, “The Chief Minister is on record to have promised to implement the MSP regime for all 23 crops. In case the Centre does not do this, (Chief Minister) Bhagwant Mann should bring in appropriate legislation to make this a reality in Punjab.”

She also requested the farm unions to put pressure on the Chief Minister to make good on his promise.

Also accusing the Chief Minister of colluding with the Haryana government to stop the farmers from marching to Delhi, the Bathinda MP said, “If Bhagwant Mann cared for the farmers, he would have faced the drones and rubber bullets first instead of letting the farmers fall victim to them.”

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