Punjab elections: BJP to contest on 65 seats, Amarinder’s PLC 37 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Punjab elections: BJP to contest on 65 seats, Amarinder’s PLC 37

By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jan 25, 2022 03:07 AM IST

The BJP will contest 65 seats in the 117- member Punjab assembly, while its two allies, Amarinder’s PLC and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt), will contest 37 and 15 seats, respectively in the upcoming elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will contest 65 seats in the 117- member Punjab assembly, while its two allies, the Punjab Lok Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt), will contest 37 and 15 seats, respectively.

Union minister Amit Shah with Punjab Lok Congress party leader Captain Amarinder Singh, BJP president JP Nadda and Shiromani Akali Dal (Sankyukt) S.S. Dhindsa during a meeting at BJP headquarters, in New Delhi, on Monday. The party released its first list of candidates for the upcoming assembly elections on Monday. (HT photo/Arvind Yadav)
Union minister Amit Shah with Punjab Lok Congress party leader Captain Amarinder Singh, BJP president JP Nadda and Shiromani Akali Dal (Sankyukt) S.S. Dhindsa during a meeting at BJP headquarters, in New Delhi, on Monday. The party released its first list of candidates for the upcoming assembly elections on Monday. (HT photo/Arvind Yadav)

It is the first time since the 1997 assembly elections that the BJP is contesting elections in the state without its former ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, which was a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance. The SAD snapped ties with the BJP following disagreements over the farm laws that were recently repealed.

Announcing the seat-sharing agreement in the capital on Monday, BJP chief JP Nadda, flanked by Amarinder Singh of the Punjab Lok Congress and Sukhdev Dhindsa of the SAD Sanyukt, said the arrangement was arrived after detailed discussions. The new alliance has been stitched together on concerns the three parties share over the security of the nation and stability in the state that shares its border with Pakistan, Nadda said.

“Punjab has 600 km of border with Pakistan. And we know what activities take place. There is drug, arms and sophisticated weapon smuggling happening. At the same time, they use drones to send drugs and ammunition,” Nadda said. “Security is a very important issue as far as Punjab election is concerned.”

The BJP chief said the NDA does not see elections as just a means to change the regime, but also to “secure the future generations and give stability to Punjab.”

He criticised the Congress government, saying the state was reeling under a 3 lakh crore debt. “Despite being a progressive state, it has slipped on the development index,” Nadda said.

The security concerns was reiterated by Singh, former chief minister and Congress leader who now heads the Punjab Lok Congress. Addressing the media at the BJP headquarters, Singh said the alliance in the state came together following a consensus that the coalition was for the sake of stability and security of the nation.

During his tenure, Singh was privy to the illegal activities carried out in the border state, which included sending over arms and ammunition, he said.

“This has been my stand from the beginning. The weaponry that has come in the last four and a half years includes at least 100,000 rifles and 500 pistols and RDX and lakhs of rounds of ammunition. Drones were making drops. The purpose was to carry out nefarious activities,” he said.

To a separate question on his allegation that Pakistan made a recommendation to include state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in his cabinet, the former chief minister said he did not approve of the cricketer turned politician and found him “incompetent and useless.”

Soon after dropping Sidhu from his cabinet, Singh received a phone call on the behest of the Pakistan prime minister requesting him to change his decision, he alleged. “I was told to take back Sidhu into the cabinet and remove him if he did not work,” the former chief minister said.

Dhindsa said the alliance will focus on the need for industry and other employment opportunities in the state. “The situation is bad; there is no industry, agriculture loans have gone up and there are no other means of brining it back on its feet,” the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) leader said. “There are other issues too. I have twice given memorandum to the union home ministry that those who have completed their terms should be released from prison.”

In the backdrop of protests against the BJP government at the Centre against the farm laws and the party’s perceived alienation from the Sikh community, Nadda listed a clutch of measures that the BJP government announced for the community, which included allowing donations for Harmandir Sahib, exempting the langars or community kitchens from goods and serves tax, and setting up of a special investigation team to probe the 1984 riots.

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