Chandigarh, April 2: Politics makes strange bedfellows and that’s what’s happening in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.
In Punjab, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The bond between the two parties has been over three decades old and both have been running an alliance government in Punjab since 2007 too.
In Haryana, the Akali Dal is close friends with Haryana’s regional political outfit, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) led by former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala. The father-son duo of Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal, who lead the Akali Dal, have a thick relationship with the Chautala family. Badal senior, 86, was a close friend of Chautala’s father and former deputy prime minister Devi Lal.
While the Akali Dal sides in Haryana with the INLD, the BJP is tied up politically with Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) headed by Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former chief minister Bhajan Lal.
As Haryana’s 10 Lok Sabha seats go to the polls April 10, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal will address rallies in favour of INLD candidates. Badal was present in Hisar recently when Dushyant Chautala, 26, great-grandson of Devi Lal and fourth generation leader from his family, filed his nomination papers. When Badal addresses these rallies, he will be politically opposing the BJP candidates, besides the Congress.
The INLD had a tieup with the BJP in Haryana before 2009. As the alliance soured, the BJP later went with the HJC.
Badal senior tried his best recently to work out a deal between the INLD and BJP once again. However, since the BJP was already committed to the HJC, the alliance with INLD did not work out. However, a post-general election arrangement between the INLD and BJP is still a possibility given the fact that Haryana assembly polls are due in October this year.
During his rally in Haryana’s Gohana town Saturday, BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi openly snubbed the INLD by telling voters not to trust the INLD and instead vote for HJC-BJP candidates. “If they are not with us today, how will they be with us after the elections?” Modi said.
The INLD, which had been giving indications of a post-poll tie-up with the BJP and giving support to Modi, immediately hit back. Senior INLD leader and Chautala’s son Abhay Chautala accused the BJP of selling tickets for Haryana’s Lok Sabha seats to Congress rebels.
“Out of the eight BJP candidates, four are Congress leaders. This is the first time that we have seen Lok Sabha tickets being sold to rebels from other parties. If anyone wants our support, he will have to come to our doorstep and request for help,” Abhay told a political rally.
The BJP, which is contesting eight Lok Sabha seats in Haryana (the remaining two are with HJC), has fielded four leaders who switched loyalties from the Congress recently. The BJP could not find enough leaders in its own ranks to contest polls this time.
The political posturing apart, the result of the Lok Sabha polls only will reveal where these political parties stand with each other in the post-poll scenario.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)