Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda on Wednesday said the party’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal – which had on January 20 decided not to contest the Delhi Assembly elections – would now support the saffron party, PTI reported. The Shiromani Akali Dal had cited differences over the Citizenship Amendment Act for its earlier decision.
“I am grateful to the SAD that they have decided to support the BJP in Delhi Assembly elections,” Nadda said at a joint press conference with the party’s leaders. “I thank Sukhbir Badal...The SAD is one of the oldest constituents of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The SAD has always been at the forefront of serving the society. The strong coalition between the BJP and the SAD will remain intact.”
Badal said that the two parties’ alliance was in “national interest” and was meant for the state of Punjab, its residents and members of the Sikh community in the country. “There were some misunderstandings that have been sorted out,” he said. “SAD extends full support to the BJP in the upcoming Delhi polls.”
In the past, the Shiromani Akali Dal has raised strong concerns regarding the amended Citizenship Act. On January 20, the party’s MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa said that the party was firm in its “stand that Muslims cannot be left out of CAA”. He had said that the party did not want the country to be “divided over religion”. Sirsa said his party was also against the proposed National Register of Citizens.
However, on Wednesday, Badal said that the party supported the amended law. “We never broke our alliance with the BJP,” he said, according to NDTV. “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 Citizenship Amendment Act provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.
The government’s critics and some protestors fear that the amended law clubbed with the NRC will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion. There are now fears that a nation-wide NRC will be imposed. The Assam NRC had left out around 6% of the state’s population. Work has also begun on the National Population Register, which is the first step before creating an all-Indian NRC identifying undocumented migrants residing in India.