The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Saturday, 12 June formed an alliance to contest the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections together.
An announcement in this regard was made jointly by SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal and BSP national General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra in Chandigarh.
Mishra, while disclosing that BSP supremo Mayawati has approved the alliance, said that both the parties would strive to form the next government in Punjab under the leadership of Sukhbir Badal.
The BSP General Secretary appealed to the Dalits and disadvantaged sections of the society to support the alliance wholeheartedly.
Mishra also visited five-time Chief Minister and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal along with BSP Punjab coordinator Randhir Singh Beniwal and Punjab BSP chief Jasbir Singh Garhi.
Speaking on the occasion, Sukhbir Badal announced that the BSP would contest 20 out of the 117 seats under its alliance with the SAD, including eight seats in the Doaba region, seven in Malwa and five in Majha region.
The seats are - Kartarpur, Jalandhar West, Jalandhar North, Phagwara, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur City, Tanda, Dasuya, Chamkaur Sahib, Bassi Pathana, Mehal Kalan, Ludhiana North, Sujanpur, Boha, Pathankot, Anandpur Sahib, Mohali, Amritsar North, Amritsar Central and Payal.
Sukhbir Badal said a coordination committee of leaders from both the parties would be formed soon to ensure seamless working in all the constituencies.
Terming the alliance as historic, the SAD chief said it is not just limited to the 2022 Assembly elections, but would continue in future also.
He said the both the SAD and the BSP have the same ideology and have always worked for the welfare of the farmers, poor and 'khet mazdoors' (field labourers).
"The Congress has not initiated a single welfare scheme for the weaker sections and it is responsible for closing down schemes like the SC scholarship scheme," he said.
Sukhbir Badal further said that it is because of these factors that there is a demand from the grassroots workers of both the SAD and the BSP to form a common front.
He also thanked BSP President Mayawati for her clear decision to join forces with the SAD to uproot the Congress from Punjab.
Sukhbir Badal told the media that the new alliance would stick to the core philosophy of Parkash Singh Badal to maintain peace and communal harmony.
"We will also ensure the welfare of the disadvantaged sections of society and farmers, besides working to develop trade and industry to bring the state's economy back on track," he said.
The senior politician also spoke about how SAD has always taken all sections of society along while in governance.
He said Parkash Singh Badal always developed places of worship of all religions and had developed the Bhagwan Valmiki temple in Amritsar, besides starting a Rs 200 crore project to develop the Guru Ravidas memorial at Khuralgarh, which was stopped by the Congress government.
Mishra, while terming the development as a red letter day for Punjab, said, "The BSP has chosen to align with the strongest party in Punjab."
He said both parties have come together after 25 years, adding the last time when they had contested an election jointly, they had swept 11 out of 13 seats in the Lok Sabha elections of 1996.
He also said that Mayawati wanted to come and announce the alliance herself, but was not able to make it due to the Covid restrictions.
Mishra further claimed that the Congress government in Punjab is discriminating against Dalits by not releasing funds reserved for Scheduled Castes, deleting lakhs of old-age pension cards, not filling SC and OBC vacancies, not releasing SC scholarship fee to students and not implementing the 'Shagun' scheme and the ‘houses for houseless' scheme.
He also said the BSP would fight hand in hand with SAD to ensure that the three ‘anti-farmer' agricultural laws are not implemented, and praised former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal for the bold stand taken by her by resigning from the Cabinet in support of the farmers.
He also criticised the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for praising the contentious farm laws and for going back on its stand due to pressure from the farmers.
The BSP has a considerable hold over the 31 percent Dalit votes in the state. The concentration of these votes is mainly on 23 seats in the Doaba region.
Earlier, the BJP used to contest 23 seats in Punjab in alliance with the SAD. The Akali Dal-BJP alliance had come to power in 2007 before being ousted by the Congress in 2017.