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Still recovering from Maharashtra setback, BJP stares at fresh ally trouble ahead of crucial elections

FE Online

Days after the Bharatiya Janata Party lost its oldest ally in the form of Shiv Sena which decided to part ways with the NDA over the issue of chief ministership, the ruling party is staring at fresh trouble from another important ally. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has demanded six seats from the BJP to contest in the Delhi Assembly elections scheduled to be held in February next year. The Legislative Assembly has 70 seats. The party said that it wants to contest six seats this time instead of four seats it has been contesting in the national capital.

Citing a senior part leader, a report in The Indian Express said that at a recent meeting of the party’s Delhi unit, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal was asked to place the demand before the BJP. The meeting was also attended by Sukhbir.

In 2013 and 2015 Assembly polls, the SAD had contested four seats — Hari Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Kalkaji and Shahdara. While it won the Rajouri Garden seat in 2013, the party lost from all the seats in the next elections. The party regained the Rajouri Garden seat in 2017 bypolls.

This time, the SAD is hopeful of a change in its fortunes. Apart from these four seats, the SAD wants to contest from Rohtas Nagar (East Delhi) Moti Nagar (West Delhi) seats. The two seats have a sizeable population of Sikh and Punjabi voters.

"We have communicated the demand to the Delhi BJP and will present it to BJP's central leadership soon," the IE report quoted a SAD leader as saying.

"We have a strong alliance with BJP. We are sure we will jointly form the government in Delhi," Rajouri Garden MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said.

The SAD’s demand comes close on the heels of developments in Maharashtra and Jharkhand. In Maharashtra, the BJP lost out on returning to power after its ally Shiv Sena sided with the Congress and NCP after a fallout on the demand for rotational chief ministership. In Jharkhand as well, the BJP is facing roadblocks after its ruling partner AJSU fielded candidates against the saffron party on many seats. The AJSU was demanding more seats to contest in the election, a demand categorically rejected by the BJP.

In Haryana, where polling was held in October, the BJP-SAD alliance saw strains after the saffron party inducted Kalanwali MLA Balkaur Singh into the party. This forced the SAD to declare it will go solo in the state.