The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday said it would fight all 117 seats in the Punjab Assembly on its own in the state elections in 2022, reported ANI.
The decision came less than two months after the saffron party’s long-standing ally Shiromani Akali Dal in September pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance over differences on the controversial farm laws. The party’s MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal had also resigned from the Union Cabinet.
“BJP is strengthening its organisation on a war footing to contest all 117 Assembly seats in Punjab,” the party’s General Secretary Tarun Chugh said on Monday, according to ANI. He said BJP President JP Nadda will virtually inaugurate 10 district offices of the party on November 19.
While in alliance with Akali Dal, the BJP used to field candidates in three of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state and in 23 of the 117 Assembly seats. The two parties have been in allies since 1992.
Chugh, however, claimed that his party has a presence across the state. “The last elections that we fought alone was in 1992,” he told The Indian Express. “We may have had an alliance...and Akalis did fight on the bulk of seats, but it would be wrong to presume that we do not have any base in the rest of the seats in Punjab.”
He also claimed that many senior Akali Dal leaders have already left the regional party, an indication of its weakening base. “Whether it be Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa or Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, many senior Akali leaders have quit SAD, leaving it in a weak state,” Chugh said. “Many more will follow suit in days to come.”
He said that besides dissidents from Akali Dal, sections of the Congress’ state leadership too was in touch with the BJP.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 seats and ousted the Akali-BJP government after 10 years. The alliance performed poorly in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls too, as they won two seats each, while Congress bagged 8 seats.