BJP chief Amit Shah meets Akali Dal leadership, discusses 2019 Lok Sabha elections
Shah, who arrived here on Thursday afternoon, drove straight to the government apartment of five-time former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in Sector 4 here, and held a closed-door meeting with top Akali Dal leadership.
Apart from Parkash Singh Badal, 90, Shah met Badal's son and party President Sukhbir Singh Badal whose wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the Union Minister for Food Processing in the Narendra Modi government.
Leaders of the SAD and BJP's Punjab unit were present at the meeting which, party sources said, was held in a cordial atmosphere.
Senior Akali leader Sikander Singh Maluka told the media earlier that while the outreach campaign of the BJP President to the NDA allies was a welcome step, it was started a "little late" in the day.
The former Minister said that the BJP-led government at the Centre had "ignored the interests of Punjab".
The meeting was held as part of Shah's initiative to connect with the Bharatiya Janata Party allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Shah had met NDA ally and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackerey in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The SAD-BJP alliance did not do too well in the Punjab Assembly elections early last year. They also did not fare well in the Lok Sabha polls in April-May 2014 despite a clear Modi wave in most other states in north India.
Both parties, which have an alliance for over three decades in Punjab, were relegated to the third spot in the 2017 Assembly polls as new entrant Aam Aadmi Party got 20 seats in the 117-member Assembly and became the principal opposition party.
The Congress, which was out of power in Punjab for a decade (2007-2017), during which period the Akali Dal-BJP alliance ruled Punjab, got 77 seats in the Assembly (the Congress tally increased to 78 after win in Shahkot by-election last month, giving the party a two third majority in the house).
Out of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, the Akali Dal-BJP combine holds five (four Akali Dal; one of BJP), while the Congress has four seats and AAP another four.