Thursday, February 22, 2024

Punjab

SAD making an alliance with BJP at this stage would be a blunder, to benefit only the BJP to expand its base in Punjab

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | February 12, 2024 07:21 AM

By Satinder Bains
CHANDIGARH: The ongoing talks of re-union between SAD and BJP is unlikely to help SAD unless the party reinforces its position among the traditional rural vote bank. An alliance in the given circumstances would only provide an opportunity for BJP to expand its roots in the border state. Sensing weak standing of SAD, the BJP is demanding bigger share in the ticket distribution in Lok Sabha.

The BJP high command has already rejected the 'big brother' theory of SAD and reportedly negotiating with SAD on its own terms. Being out of power for the last ten years, SAD president Sukhbir Badal seems keen for an alliance with saffron party out of frustration. On ground, the situation is not favourable for SAD for an alliance as they are not in position to insist on their terms.

At a time when farmers of state are launching an agitation for acceptance of their demands including guarantee of MSP and implementation of Swaminathan report on Agri pricing. The tie is not ripe for an alliance with a party from which the SAD had broken ties on the issue of three farm laws enacted by centre government. The centre government has not yet made notification of scrapping three bills. In such a situation joining hands with BJP would be another political blunder.

As the reports suggest, the BJP is pressing to contest six seats of Lok Sabha and want SAD to contest remaining 7 seats. SAD learnt to have agreed to give five seats to BJP, two seats more than BJP was contested in the past. BJP has made a claim that they have contested on three seats in last Lok Sabha election and won two of them. The SAD had contested ten seats and could win only two seats.

BJP is well aware of the fact that SAD can't form a government in state on its own and it would always need an alliance partner. When it comes to choosing between BJP and BSP, the first choice will be BJP for the reason that BSP doesn’t enjoy the confidence of dalits in state and it has only about 2 percent vote share in the state. The SAD-BJP alliance in the 2022 assembly election had also failed to make an impact and SAD was contained to three seats only in the 117-member house.

BJP had dealt with late Parkash Singh Badal on different terms and respected his seniority in politics. The things have turned more difficult for Sukhbir Badal after the death of Badal senior. Sukhbir Badal is carrying the luggage of charges of corruption on his family, promoting mafias and gangsters during their rule, exonerating dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh (By Akal Takht), not arresting the culprits of discretion of Guru Granth Sahib, appointment of Sumedh Saini as DGP of Punjab and patronising family of infamous former ADGP Mohammed Izhar Alam- both of whom had allegedly killed hundreds of innocent Sikh youth. Sukhbir also faces charges of promoting family businesses of hotel and transport at the cost of interests of People of Punjab.

Sukhbir Badal has though apologised in public for the mistakes his family and their government has made in the past but still time is not ripe to return to old alliance without winning over the mind of its vote bank. May be an alliance before assembly elections in 2027 would help SAD to compete for government formation.

Going by the statics, the SAD had lost a whopping 20 percent vote share in last ten years. SAD has slipped from 38 percent in 2007 to merely 18 percent vote percentage in 2022. In the 2022 assembly SAD could win only three seats out of 97 seats contested by it. Contesting Lok Sabha at its own would give SAD to introspect and make strategy for assembly polls.

By all parameters the elections in 2022 were verdict against the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress party which ruled Punjab for long, particularly the ten years of SAD-BJP alliance under Parkash Singh Badal (2007 to 2017) and ten years (2002-2007 and 2017 to 2022) of Congress under Capt Amarinder Singh. A message had gone down the minds of people of state that Badal family and Capt Amarinder Singh are hand in glove with each other to keep power within two families. The narrative that both parties are corrupt and incompetent led to their defeat. BJP though was part of governance for ten years but it didn’t share the blame on SAD leadership.

An alliance between SAD and BJP would mean that Sukhbir Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh (now in BJP) would be sharing common state. Such a situation would harm the interests of SAD. Making an alliance with BJP at this stage would not be advisable when Sukhbir Badal is trying to create a narrative of strengthening regional party of Punjab to safeguard the state's interests. The Punjab Bachao Yatra has only one motive to reach out to masses with the approach of strengthening SAD, the only hope for Punjab.

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