BJP, Akali Dal call it a truce; Amit Shah assures Sukhbir of no interference

Chandigarh, February 2: The warring BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal finally called it a truce after a meeting between BJP president Amit Shah and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal in Delhi on Friday night.

The SAD had threatened to snap ties with the BJP over the alleged interference of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat (an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in the Sikh religious affairs.

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The recent flashpoint was the amendment made in Section 11 of the Takht Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board Nanded Act, 1956, which allowed the Maharashtra government to increase its representation in the management of the gurudwara.

The Akali Dal has also called a core committee meeting of its party here on Sunday to debate the issue of continuing their alliance with the BJP.

Sources in both the Akali Dal and BJP confirmed that the two party presidents met for almost two hours. During this meeting, Shah is said to have assured Sukhbir that the amendment made in the Act would be withdrawn.

An assurance was also made that the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat would not interfere in the affairs of the Sikhs. Both parties are learnt to have agreed not to step on each other’s political turfs, and Badal was assured that the Akalis would be consulted on all issues concerning Sikhs.

The Akali Dal and BJP have not enjoyed a very comfortable working relationship since 2014. While the two parties were in power till March 2017, the BJP-led government did not give any new project or succumb to any demand made by the Akali-BJP government of Parkash Singh Badal. Even during the run-up to the state assembly polls, there were murmurs in the Akali Dal regarding the RSS not helping them, and rather helping the Congress party.

However, as the elections draw near, the two allies seem to be working on their mutually beneficial electoral marriage. Snapping of ties over the sensitive issue of the RSS infringing on Sikh religious institutions would also impact the BJP in states like Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan, with sizeable Sikh voters.

Sources in the Akali Dal also told The Tribune that the two leaders had agreed to hold a joint meeting with Akali Dal and BJP workers to have a joint strategy for the upcoming parliamentary elections. This meeting will be held later this month. It may be mentioned that the BJP contests on three and the Akali Dal on 10 parliamentary seats, as per the two parties’ seat-sharing arrangement.

(Except the headline, the story has been sourced from The Tribune)

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