SAD not to contest Delhi polls, cites differences with BJP over CAA

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 20

The Shiromani Akali Dal will not contest the forthcoming Delhi Assembly Elections, scheduled for February 8.

Manjinder Singh Sirsa, sitting MLA from Rajouri Garden, said, "We have opted out as we refused to change our stand on including Muslims in Citizenship Amendment Act."

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal's stand was questioned by the alliance partner, the BJP.

"We were questioned on SAD leadership's stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act and were told at three meetings that this was not the BJP stand."

"The party was asked to reconsider the stand on including Muslims in the CAA. We have not budged. Our stand is clear that country cannot be divided on the basis of religion. The Akali Dal does not favour the National Register of Citizens (NRC)," Sirsa said.

He was accompanied by Harmeet Singh Kalka, president of SAD Delhi unit.

“Shiromani Akali Dal today declared that it would rather not contest elections in Delhi than sacrifice the interests of the minorities or compromise on the secular principles taught to us by the great Guru Sahiban. Accordingly, the SAD declared that it would stay away from the electoral process in the forthcoming assembly poll in Delhi,” they said.

We were asked to reconsider the stand on including Muslims in the CAA. We have not budged. Our stand is clear that country cannot be divided on the basis of religion. The Akali Dal does not favour NRC.

Manjinder Sirsa

Addressing the media, Sirsa and Kalka said there are strong ideological differences between the two parties on the issue of the CAA. The Akali Dal wants Muslims to be included in the Act and the party is firmly opposed to NRC and can never support it.

They said differences on this sensitive and critical issue have been coming to the fore during the debate on the issue of Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 which was passed in Parliament.

“Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal took a principled stand on this issue during the debate, standing by the minorities and upholding the principles of secularism in the spirit of 'sarbat da bhala'. The same stand was repeated by Akali Dal MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder in Rajya Sabha also. That stand is non-negotiable. The Muslims must not be left out of the CAA process as leaving them out would go against the basic principles of the Akali Dal and the great teachings of our great Gurus,” they said.

The SAD leaders added: “In last several rounds of meetings with BJP, the leaders were pressing upon the Shiromani Akali Dal to withdraw their stand on CAA vis-à-vis Muslim community. Also, in our meetings, we made our position clear that NRC should not be implemented and that we cannot force people of India to stand in queues to prove the credentials that they are Indians and to give proof of their forefathers.”

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