The Shiromani Akali Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) would be contesting the 2022 Assembly election in Punjab jointly. The announcement in this regard was made in Chandigarh on Saturday (June 12) by SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and BSP general secretary Satish Mishra. While Sukhbir called it as a historic day, Satish Mishra said that now this alliance would not break. They both clearly suggested that they may go together in the 2024 Lok Sabha poll too.
It needs to be mentioned that on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14 Sukhbir had announced that his party would make a Dalit the deputy chief minister after it comes to power in the next election. Now it is clear what he actually wanted to convey.
It was in 1996 that the two parties jointly contested the Lok Sabha election. In that election, the first after the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, the Akalis didn’t join hands with the BJP, their old ally. However, after the election, they did lend support to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government which could last for only thirteen days.
The SAD, which fielded its candidates on 10 Lok Sabha seats won eight while the BSP walked away with all the three on which it fielded its nominees.
As per the latest agreement while SAD would field candidates on 90 seats, the BSP would be left with 20 segments. The last Assembly poll the SAD had contested in alliance with the old partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party. In 2017, the BJP was left with the same 20 seats which has now been allotted to the BSP. They are spread all over Punjab, mostly in the Doab region. The BJP, however, could win only three seats while the Akali Dal 15. In that election, the Aam Aadmi Party performed better and won 20 seats.
The Congress, which won that election by a thumping majority, got 77. With about 31.9 per cent, Punjab has the highest concentration of Dalit votes. Even the founder of BSP, Kanshi Ram, was a Dalit Sikh, also known as Mazhabi Sikh.
The SAD had snapped its ties with the BJP and withdrew from the National Democratic Alliance after the passage of the three farm laws by Lok Sabha on September 17 last. The lone SAD minister in Narendra Modi cabinet, Harsimrat Kaur Badal also resigned from the ministry.
Political analysts are of the view that both the SAD and BSP were struggling for a partner in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, two of the five states going to poll early next year. They both have been facing marginalisation in these two respective states.