Shiromani Akali Dal, BSP form alliance for 2022 Punjab elections
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has announced a political alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ahead of the Punjab Legislative Assembly elections next year. The alliance is aimed at making up for the loss of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The SAD-BJP alliance ended last year as the Akalis left the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the Centre's controversial new agricultural laws.
SAD to contest on 97 seats, BSP on 20 seats
Announcing the alliance, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said, "It's a new day in Punjab politics. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to fight the 2022 Punjab Legislative Assembly elections and future elections together," ANI reported. The BSP will contest 20 out of 117 seats, while the SAD will contest the remaining 97 seats, Badal announced.
'Congress government anti-Dalit and anti-farmer'
BSP MP Satish Mishra said the alliance marks a historic day. Recalling the alliance between the two parties in 1996, he said, "This time the alliance will not be broken." He added, "We will work to end corruption and scams under Congress' leadership. The current government is anti-Dalit and anti-farmer, while we will work for everyone's welfare and development."
SAD open to alliances except with Congress, BJP, AAP
Last week, Badal had said that the SAD is open to alliances except with the Sonia Gandhi-led Indian National Congress (INC), the JP Nadda-led BJP, and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). "We cannot align with these parties. We will form alliances and we are open to others," Badal was quoted as saying, "No chance to go with BJP at all."
Which seats will the BSP contest from?
The BSP is expected to draw the 31% Dalit vote in Punjab. Dalits make up roughly 40% of the state's population. According to The Tribune, the BSP will contest on the following seats: Amritsar Central, Amritsar North, Anandpur Sahib, Bassi Pathana, Boha, Chamkaur Sahib, Dasuya, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar North, Jalandhar West, Kartarpur Sahib, Ludhiana North, Mehal Kalan, Mohali, Nawanshahar, Pathankot, Payal, Phagwara, Sujjanpur, and Tanda.
SAD-BSP had last formed alliance in 1996
The SAD and BSP had last formed an alliance during the 1996 Lok Sabha elections, bagging 11 out of 13 seats. The BSP had won in all three seats that it had contested from, while the SAD had won eight out of 10 seats.
BJP's oldest ally, SAD quit NDA last September
The Akalis were the BJP's oldest ally, dating back to 1992. However, the SAD withdrew from the NDA last September over widespread protests against three agricultural laws. The protests were most intense in Punjab and Haryana. The lone SAD minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, had also quit after drawing criticism from state farmers.