Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday announced an alliance to contest the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections together. An announcement was made jointly by SAD President Sukhbir Badal and BSP national General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra at SAD head office in Chandigarh.
The SAD-BSP had entered into an alliance long back for the 1996 Lok Sabha polls and won 11 out of 13 seats in Punjab.
Terming the alliance as historic, the SAD chief Sukhbir Badal said it is not just limited to the 2022 Assembly elections, but would continue in future also. Both the SAD and the BSP have the same ideology and have always worked for the welfare of the farmers, poor and labourers.
Badal announced that BSP would contest 20 out of the 117 seats under its alliance with the SAD, including eight seats in the Doaba region, seven in Malwa and five in Majha region. The seats are -- Kartarpur, Jalandhar West, Jalandhar North, Phagwara, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur City, Tanda, Dasuya, Chamkaur Sahib, Bassi Pathana, Mehal Kalan, Ludhiana North, Sujanpur, Boha, Pathankot, Anandpur Sahib, Mohali, Amritsar North, Amritsar Central and Payal.
"A coordination committee of leaders from both the parties would be formed soon to ensure seamless working in all the constituencies," he added.
Mishra said BSP supremo Mayawati has approved the alliance, and added that both the parties would strive to form the next Government in Punjab under the leadership of Sukhbir Badal. The BSP General Secretary appealed to the Dalits and disadvantaged sections of the society to support the alliance wholeheartedly. He also said that Mayawati wanted to come and announce the alliance herself, but was not able to make it due to the Covid restrictions. Mishra also visited five-time Chief Minister and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal along with BSP Punjab coordinator Randhir Singh Beniwal and Punjab BSP chief Jasbir Singh Garhi.
He also alleged that the Congress Government in Punjab is discriminating against Dalits by not releasing funds reserved for Scheduled Castes, deleting lakhs of old-age pension cards, not filling SC and OBC vacancies, not releasing SC scholarship fee to students and not implementing the ‘Shagun’ scheme and the ‘houses for houseless’ scheme. He also criticised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for praising the contentious farm laws and for going back on its stand due to pressure from the farmers.
Punjab has 31 per cent Dalit votes which the new alliance is looking at. The concentration of these votes is mainly on 23 seats in the Doaba region. Earlier, the BJP used to contest 23 seats in Punjab in alliance with the SAD. The SAD-BJP alliance had come to power in 2007 before being ousted by Congress in 2017. Punjab is scheduled to go to the polls in February-March 2022.