- "We never broke alliance with BJP," said SAD Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal
- "Supported CAA from the beginning," he added
- BJP president JP Nadda also called SAD an "old and strong" ally
After weeks of hedging its bets on the Delhi assembly polls, the Shiromani Akali Dal has finally come around to renewing its electoral alliance with the BJP with a declaration that certain "misunderstandings" between the two parties have been amicably resolved.
"The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance is more than a mere political tie-up. It is bound by shared emotions for peace, a bright future and interests of Punjab as well as the country. There were some misunderstandings, but they have been sorted out," party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said today.
BJP national president JP Nadda and Mr Badal later held a joint press conference to clarify their stand. "The alliance of BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal is the oldest and strongest. I thank Akali Dal for supporting BJP in the Delhi elections," news agency IANS quoted Mr Nadda as saying at the meet.
On January 20, the Shiromani Akali Dal had indicated that it will not contest the Delhi elections with the BJP over seat-sharing differences. Back then, the regional party also said that it cannot accept the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act in its present form.
"Our stand is clear... the nation can't be divided over religion. We will prefer to not contest the polls than change our stand. The National Register of Citizens should also not be introduced either... the nation belongs to all," Delhi Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa had said at a press conference amid ongoing protests against the controversial law.
The Shiromani Akali Dal has consistently maintained that Muslim migrants should not be excluded from the ambit of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
However, Mr Badal voiced a different opinion today. "We never broke our alliance with the BJP. We were just considering the possibility of contesting the election separately. We have supported the Citizenship Amendment Act from the very beginning. We went to Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah for granting citizenship to Sikhs who have been subjected to persecution in Pakistan and Afghanistan," the party chief said.
Mr Nadda also confirmed the development, describing the Shiromani Akali Dal as an "old and strong" ally.
The country has witnessed protests since December last year, when the government enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act that makes it easier for non-Muslims migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to become Indian citizens. Critics say that the law is against the secular principles of the country and is likely to pose a threat to the country's Muslim community when implemented in coordination with the National Register of Citizens.
Delhi will go to the polls on February 8, and the votes counted three days later. The BJP hopes to gain Sikh votes in Delhi through its alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal.
(With inputs from Agencies)