Headed for Split? SAD Asks Nominees to File Papers on 4 Delhi Seats; BJP's Manoj Tiwari Skips Mentioning Ally

Chandigarh/Delhi: The alliance between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be headed for a split in Delhi after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on seat-sharing for the upcoming Assembly polls.

The SAD has asked four of its candidates to file nominations, while stating that the party may contest from more seats.

After initially indulging in pressure politics by raising the clamour for an increased number of seats, SAD leaders later said they were willing to settle for four seats as had been the arrangement in 2015.

The old allies had almost reached a deal, but Akali Dal leaders refused to allow two of its candidates to contest on the BJP’s symbol as was done last time. When the BJP didn’t give in to this demand, the SAD decided to announce its candidates on four seats.

On Friday, the BJP released its first list of 57 candidates for the February 8 polls to the 70-member Delhi Assembly, fielding 20 municipal leaders, including four former mayors, as many ex-deputy mayors and a host of sitting and former councillors.

On Monday, state BJP president Manoj Tiwari said three seats would be given to allies Janata Dal (United) JDU and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), while candidates for the remaining 10 seats would be announced soon.

"We have decided to give three seats to our allies. The JDU will contest on two seats and LJP on 1 seat. Rest of the ten seats which remain, BJP will announce candidates for them soon

In 2015, two of the SAD leaders — Manjinder Singh Sirsa (Rajouri Garden) and Avtar Singh Hit (Harinagar) — had contested on party symbol, while two others — Harmeet Singh Kalka (Kalkaji) and Jitender Pal Shanty (Shahdara) — were BJP candidates. Sirsa had later won the by-election from Rajouri Garden in 2017 on a BJP symbol.

The three-member high-level committee of the Akali Dal, comprising Balwinder Singh Bhundur, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Naresh Gujral held several rounds of talks with the BJP leadership, including Union Minister Prakash Javdekar, but failed to reach an agreement.

Earlier, it was reported that the BJP was yet to decide on the alliance with its old ally, even as SAD hinted at bargaining for more seats.

Bhundur, a Rajya Sabha MP, said, “We have asked four of our candidates to file the nominations. We might even contest on more seats.”

Apart from the four seats from where it had fielded its nominees in 2015, this time, the SAD is eyeing Sadar Bazar, Moti Nagar, Patel Nagar and Krishna Nagar constituencies.

The development came on a day when Jagat Prakash Nadda took charge as the BJP national president.

SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal wrote on Twitter, “Heartiest congratulations to @JPNadda ji on being elected as the National President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Wishing him all success in his new task.”

The BJP-SAD alliance had run into rough weather even during the 2019 Haryana Assembly polls. The two parties had independently contested the elections after the BJP refused to part with more seats to the SAD.