The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared that it will contest the 2022 Assembly elections in Punjab on its own. According to party's general secretary Tarun Chugh, the saffron party has started preparations on a war footing to mount a challenge to the ruling Congress.
The development comes nearly two months after BJP’s long-term ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) broke away from the NDA over the farm laws.
According to Chugh, the organisational structure at 23,000 polling booths is being strengthened by the party. He said that BJP's national president JP Nadda will virtually inaugurate 10 district offices of the party on Thursday. Nadda will then undertake a three-day tour to the state to review the preparations.
"He (JP Nadda) will galvanise party workers for the forthcoming Assembly poll battle,” he said. Chugh added that party workers will reach out to the public to tell them about 160 public welfare schemes launched by the Modi government in the state.
Chugh's comment is the first official statement from BJP on the party's contesting elections in Punjab alone. The last election that the BJP has fought alone was in 1992. The BJP and SAD then forged an alliance and contested elections together since then.
Chugh said that the BJP has a base in Punjab, adding that many senior SAD leaders have already deserted the party. "This was an indication of the way forward," he said.
Earlier in September, SAD had quit the NDA over the passage of three new agriculture bills -- Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. SAD's lone member in the Union Cabinet, Harsimrat Kaur Badal also resigned. The SAD termed them as anti-farmers and alleged that the bills will destroy the livelihood of the community.
The Punjab Legislative Assembly has 117 seats. As per the seat-sharing formula between the BJP and SAD, the former used to field its candidates on three of the 13 Lok Sabha seats and 23 of 117 Assembly seats. The remaining seats were contested by the SAD.