- Of the 37 seats in Amarinder's share, 26 are from the Malwa region with which he has strong ties
- The Malwa region had helped Amarinder swing the 2017 election results for the Congress
- Voting for the 117-member assembly will be held on February 20 with results on March 10
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced a seat-sharing pact with the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) of Captain Amarinder Singh and SAD (Sanyukt) of Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa for the upcoming Assembly polls in Punjab. While the BJP has got the lion's share of 65 seats, the PLC will contest on 37 seats. The SAD (Sanyukt) will field 15 candidates. The Punjab Legislative Assembly has 117 chairs.
Of the 37 seats in Amarinder's share, 26 are from the Malwa region with which he has strong ties. Notably, the Malwa region had helped Amarinder Singh swing the 2017 election results for Congress. The grand old party had won 40 of the 69 seats in the region. In the Majha region, the Congress under Amarinder's leadership had secured 22 of the 25 seats. In the Doaba belt, the grand old party pocketed 15 of the 23 seats.
Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat, who is BJP’s poll in charge for the state, had earlier announced that a six-member panel, with two members from each constituent party, to finalise the seat-sharing pact amongst the BJP, Capt Amarinder Singh-led PLC and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s SAD (Sanyukt) for the Punjab polls. The three parties will also issue a joint manifesto.
Addressing the media at BJP headquarters in Delhi, party chief JP Nadda said that Punjab, a border state, needs a stable and strong government.
"We know that Pakistan wants to disturb the peace. We have seen there that there are attempts to smuggle drugs and weapons. Punjab needs a government that is strong. The NDA will not allow the anti-national forces to succeed," he said.
Nadda while hailing Punjab as a 'leader', especially in defence and food security of the country, he said, "Today Punjab needs special attention, it needs a double engine government and a better coordination between the Centre and the state. It is also our responsibility to make Punjab economically strong. The Center and state relations are very important for stability and security."
"This election is not just an opportunity to change the government. This election will secure the future of the coming generations and give stability to Punjab. If Punjab is safe, then the country is safe," the BJP chief said.
Amarinder Singh said that for the sake of national security and the welfare of the state, all three parties have come together. He also lashed out at Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, saying, "After I dropped Navjot Sidhu from my government, I got a message from Pakistan that he is an old friend of their prime minister and he would be grateful if you can keep him in the government. If he (Sidhu) doesn't work, then you can remove him."
Singh, who had dropped Sidhu from the Punjab government during his tenure as the state's chief minister, never had smooth relations with the cricketer-turned-politician and was against appointing him as the Punjab unit chief of the Congress. On Sunday, he had alleged in Chandigarh that Sidhu has "no brains" and also claimed that he had advised Congress president Sonia Gandhi five years ago not to induct "this incompetent man" in the party.
Polling in Punjab will be held in a single phase on February 20 and the result will be announced on March 10.