The BJP will lead a three-party coalition with former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s SAD (Sanyukt) in Punjab, where a multi-cornered electoral battle is expected.
The announcement came after Singh and Dhindsa met BJP president J P Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who is in charge of the party’s electioneering in Punjab, at Shah’s residence in the national capital on Monday.
Addressing the media later, Shekhawat said, “Today, it is being officially announced that the BJP, Amarinder Singh’s party and Sukhdev Dhindsa’s party will jointly contest the upcoming Assembly polls in Punjab.”
A joint committee will be formed comprising two leaders from each party to finalise the seat-sharing arrangements, Shekhawat said. “There will be a committee consisting of leaders from (the) three parties and they will sit and discuss the seat-sharing (formula). They will submit a draft to the BJP central leadership on the seat-sharing formula,” he told The Indian Express.
While BJP, isolated after its traditional ally Shiromani Akali Dal walked out of the NDA in protest against the now-repealed farm laws, is trying to get an edge in Punjab politics, the party’s main thrust would be on expanding its support base to become an electoral force to reckon with in the state. While BJP has three MLAs in the outgoing Assembly, given SAD’s overwhelming presence, this will probably be the first time the party will go all out across the state, after SAD walked out of NDA.
The alliance will also have a common manifesto, it was informed.
Asked whether the alliance will have a chief ministerial candidate, Shekhawat said such decisions will be taken later.
Shekhawat said the party is optimistic given the political atmosphere in Punjab. “The only ray of hope for the people of Punjab is BJP, because there is huge infighting in the Congress and the state is paying for it — the recent blast in Ludhiana (court complex) is an example. People have not forgotten the era of drugs and mafia under the Akali Dal,” he said.
BJP leaders also dismissed Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) emergence in the state — the party has won most seats in the Chandigarh civic elections, according to the results announced on Monday.
“Only BJP can save the state, which is under a huge debt — around Rs 4 lakh crore — and has one of the slowest GDP growth, ranked 32nd,” Shekhawat said. “The situation is very critical…it can be saved only with the help of the Centre, and people have realised that.”