The BJP in Punjab has started its preparation for the 2022 assembly polls and is working on forging an alliance with former CM Captain Amarinder Singh's Punjab Lok Congress(PLC) and Akali leaders like Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Ranjit Singh Brahmpur.
BJP is also facing allegations of forcibly inducting prominent Sikh faces into its fold to make it difficult for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Meanwhile the farm laws repeal seems to have had little impact on BJP's popularity.
Recently, Aam Aadmi Party MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann also alleged that a senior BJP leader had tried to bribe him to influence him to join the saffron party ahead of the assembly elections.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa resigned from the post of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief to join BJP. Two dozen Sikh leaders, including former Punjab Director General of Police SS Virk and former Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Sarabjit Singh Makkar, have recently left the SAD and joined the saffron party.
Talking to Outlook, SAD spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said, “Threats are being sent to jail SAD leaders for not joining the BJP. It is because of this fear that Manjinder Singh Sirsa has joined BJP.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that talks are on for an alliance with former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and former senior SAD leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. Confirming this, Dhindsa said, “The first round of talks with Amit Shah has been held for about half an hour. The position regarding alliance and seat-sharing will be clear after the next talks."
Senior BJP leader and former cabinet minister Master Mohan Lal said, “SAD betrayed the BJP for its selfishness on the issue of three agricultural laws. This has hurt our central leadership."
Politically, the BJP has nothing to gain or lose in Punjab, despite the repeal of farm laws. The BJP, in alliance with the SAD, contested only 23 seats out of 117. Now it is trying to form a fourth front with new allies. The BJP won only three seats in the 2017 assembly elections, but the party's central leadership is expected to repeat the West Bengal-like performance in Punjab where its tally jumped from three to 77.
It is not possible to say how much the BJP will benefit from the joining of Sirsa just before the Punjab assembly elections. But Sirsa, resigning from the post of Chief of Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, definitely indicated a bigger role in national politics in a tweet. Sirsa wrote, “I am resigning as the President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee. I will not contest the upcoming election of the committee. I have a commitment to my community, humanity and service to the nation."
Describing Sirsa as a weak Sikh, the head of Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh said, “Sirsa has betrayed the sect out of fear of being sent to jail. He spoke to me a day before joining BJP. I felt he was asked to choose between going to BJP or going to jail, and he chose BJP." However, speaking to Outlook, Sirsa denied these allegations and said, "I voluntarily joined the BJP as the SAD was not in a position to resolve the issues of Sikhs and farmers after breaking the alliance with BJP."
Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, General Secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union Ugrahan(Ekta) on BJP's political situation in Punjab after the withdrawal of farm laws, said, "BJP wanted a big Sikh face in Punjab, so it has chosen Manjinder Singh Sirsa. If Sirsa is thinking of contesting from Punjab on a BJP ticket and feels that the repeal of the farm laws will give him sympathy, then it will be his big misunderstanding.