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Posted at: Aug 20, 2019, 6:59 AM; last updated: Aug 20, 2019, 6:59 AM (IST)

Akalis hit back as BJP ‘eyes’ higher seat share

Launch enrolment campaign in urban segments

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19

All is not well between the alliance partners, the SAD and the BJP, over maintaining a stronghold in their respective constituencies under the two-decade-old seat sharing system.

While the BJP, emboldened by the recent Lok Sabha election results in the country, has openly sought more seats for the 2022 Assembly polls, the Akalis have started an aggressive membership drive in these very constituencies to counter the BJP claim.

The Akalis have also appointed sitting MLAs/former ministers as special supervisors to monitor the drive. A day after BJP state president Shwait Malik told The Tribune that they were looking for more seats than the 23 allotted to them, Akali leaders said they would not budge and were in fact looking to expand their base in the BJP segments as well.

Party spokesperson Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema termed Malik’s statement as premature and against the coalition dharma. “The state elections are at least two and a half years ahead. Such statements at this juncture are premature and disturb the decorum of the partnership,” he said. He called for maturity in the alliance so that the understanding between the parties was maintained.

Both the parties have been in the process enrolling new members for the last few weeks. This had even led to clashes between the party members at some places in Malwa last month. Malik reportedly said the party had enrolled five lakh members. On the other hand, Akali leaders claimed that they had issued 55 lakh membership forms so far. The leaders said the forms were issued on request only and the party was hoping to have more members than its vote share of 51 lakh in the last elections.

Senior Akali leaders said there was no way that they would let go their share. “They are trying to make inroads into our seats. We have started an aggressive campaign in their constituencies as the Akali Dal was getting response in the entire state, not just in own constituencies.”

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