BJP, which announced its final list of candidates for the 2020 Delhi assembly election, has dumped NDA ally, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), from the alliance. The SAD has considerable following in the Sikh dominated areas of Delhi like Kalkaji, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar, and Rajouri Garden, and used to fight elections in alliance with BJP.
The saffron party has asked SAD to reconsider its stance CAA, which seeks to accelerate the process of citizenship for the minorities of the neighbouring countries, including Sikhs, to which SAD did not agree, despite the popular support of the amendment among the common Sikhs.
The popularity of SAD is declining even among the Sikh community, as the party has become family fiefdom of Badals in the last few decades. The party came out of the Akali movement, which seeks the welfare and political representative of Sikhs. However, since the Badals took charge of the party, it is working only for the welfare of its own family.
BJP has taken a great decision by forcing SAD to change stance and CAA, and dumping the party when they did not bend. The popularity of Badal family is at all-time low given the corruption charges, and by opposing CAA, they have further weakened its base among Sikhs, and therefore, even Sikhs will dump the party in Delhi, as well as in Punjab.
The party, which was formulated as political wing of a Sikh movement, has suddenly taken a secular stance, and demanded an amendment in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha resolution seeking the inclusion of Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan within the purview of the Citizenship Amendment legislation.
The stand taken by the party on the issue of CAA is very pathetic and preposterous. The party claimed that it had voted in favour of the legislation in the Parliament because it could not understand what it meant. Only the Akali Dal can explain what is so intricate in the straight-forward legislation that it failed to understand. The lame excuse could barely cover up the malicious political intent behind the sudden U-turn in party’s stance.
The party even congratulated Punjab CM, Amarinder Singh for bringing a resolution against the CAA. Akali Dal legislature party leader, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, also suggested an outrageous amendment and stated, “The party wants the Congress not to oppose the relief given to thousands of Sikhs, but to focus only on securing relief to the Muslims.” It seems that SAD did not understand the CAA after all, or else it would not have made this utterly bizarre suggestion.
With this stand, the SAD has shown that its perceived activism for the welfare of the Sikh community is merely a political tool and not a matter of principle. The party has time and again echoed Sikh sentiments for garnering political popularity and votes.
SAD’s opposition to the CAA comes only days after the disturbing events of an attack on Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev in Pakistan. A Muslim mob had laid siege of the Gurudwara Janamsthaan and also indulged in vandalism and stone pelting at the holiest of Sikh shrines. Moreover, the leader of this mob was also seen threatening to raze down the Gurudwara and evict every single Sikh from Nankana Sahib. He further threatened to rename the town with an Islamic name– Ghulam-e-Mustafa.
BJP should dump the Akali Dal in Punjab too as it is a burden on NDA. It could secure only 15 seats during the 2017 Assembly Polls in Punjab. Akali Dal continued its miserable run in the Lok Sabha polls last year and won only two seats. The party still secured a cabinet berth in the Modi cabinet. But when the party should have stood with the Modi government and also the Sikh community, it succumbed to external political pressure.
The SAD is also battling infighting, which shows that the party is a mere liability. Last year, SAD leader and Rajya Sabha MP, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had raised questions about the procedure for electing the party president. There is a growing sentiment against the Badal family within the SAD, which has led to bitter infighting in the party.
Given its declining popularity, it is the SAD which desperately needs the BJP and not the other way round. By taking a U-turn on the CAA and NRC, SAD has tried to arm-twist the BJP, but electorally, the Akali Dal is in not the most comfortable position to lock horns with the BJP ahead of elections.