Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an all-weather ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has decided not to fight the Delhi assembly elections after the BJP asked it to change its stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which it said it refused.
The SAD has following in many Sikh-dominated seats like Kalkaji, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar and Rajouri Garden in the city. It is a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.
Addressing a press conference, party leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa on Monday (January 20) said during three poll-related meetings with the BJP, his party was asked to consider its stand on the CAA. “During our meeting with the BJP, we were asked to reconsider our stand on the CAA but we declined to do so. The Shiromani Akali Dal is of the firm stand that Muslims cannot be left out of the CAA,” he said.
Sirsa, though a SAD leader, had contested the 2017 bypoll election from the Rajouri Garden seat on a BJP ticket and he had won it. He said his party is also “strongly” against the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, commenting on the development, said it is the SAD’s stand not to contest the elections. “Akali Dal is one of our oldest allies. It has also supported us in Parliament over the citizenship Law. If they do not want to contest elections, it is their stand,” Tiwari said without commenting further.
The BJP has released its first list of 57 candidates and is expected to name its candidates for 10 more seats soon. It has given three seats to its allies, the Janata Dal (United) and the Lok Janashakti Party.
Sirsa declined that his party’s decision was prompted by the non-acceptance of their seat-sharing formula by the BJP. The SAD had been traditionally fighting on four of the 70 seats – Shahdara, Kalkaji, Rajouri Garden and Hari Nagar – in Delhi Assembly polls in alliance with the BJP. In 2013, the SAD had won three of the four seats but failed to win even one in the 2015 Assembly elections.
“The problem is the CAA, not the number of seats. We are not against the CAA but our stand is that Muslims should be part of it,” Sirsa said. He said no discussion over seat-sharing took place during meetings with BJP leaders.
“Our alliance with the BJP is based on brotherhood. The alliance brought peace and progress in Punjab. With this stand, the alliance is not breaking through,” Sirsa said ducking the question whether the alliance with the BJP remains or not.
(With inputs from agencies)