SAD’s entry foxes alliance partners INLD and BJP

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
The maiden entry of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) into the Haryana panchayat electoral arena on its own, has sent confusing signals to its alliance partners — the BJP and the INLD.
The SAD’s decision to contest panchayat elections apparently to widen its base in Haryana seems to have left the INLD leadership at its wits’ end. The Chautalas are hoping to stage a “comeback” in rural areas after its defeat in the last year’s Assembly elections.
Though panchayat elections are not fought on party symbols, candidates “affiliated” to different parties are “adopted” by political outfits after they win the elections.
The SAD is in alliance with BJP in Punjab while, in Haryana, the party has electoral alliance with the INLD. In the last Assembly elections, the SAD leadership campaigned for INLD candidates much to the chagrin of the BJP leadership.
What has confounded the INLD and SAD cadres is that both parties are yet to discuss the panchayat elections. State INLD president Ashok Arora said the SAD’s electoral foray into Haryana was yet to be discussed by both parties. He, however, hoped both parties would “sort out” the matter soon.
Balwinder Singh Bhunder, SAD general secretary and election campaign in charge for panchayat elections, told The Tribune that SAD’s primary purpose for contesting PRI poll was to widen its base and defeat the “Congress-affiliated” candidates. “We are open to poll adjustments with all like-minded and non-Congress parties in panchayat elections,” he said.
Bhunder said the party would field “maximum” number of candidates in areas where it had sizeable support base. The SAD commands influence in several districts such as Sirsa, Ambala, Panchkula, Kurukshetra, Karnal and Panipat.
Sources in the BJP said they had nothing to lose from SAD entering the panchayat poll arena as the party was not contesting on the party symbol. In any case, the BJP and SAD do not have an alliance in Haryana, a senior leader said.
Recently, SAD president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, while announcing the party’s intention to contest Haryana panchayat elections, divided Haryana into five zones for the PRI poll.
Imperfect past, future tense
The SAD’s decision to contest panchayat elections in Haryana will upset both the INLD and the BJP. The INLD will be upset because the SAD announced its decision without taking its leaders into confidence; while the BJP will be upset that like the last Assembly elections, the SAD leaders would campaign against the “BJP-affiliated” candidates which would be against the coalition dharma. In the last Assembly elections, the SAD leaders campaigned in favour of INLD candidates and against BJP candidates. However, in this election, the SAD will be campaigning against candidates affiliated to both the INLD and the BJP.