Allies of the BJP, both in the states of Punjab and Haryana, are grappling with significant internal strife that could possibly alter the political dynamics in the two northern states.
The 99-year-old political party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab and the fledgling Chautala clan-led Janata Jananayak party (JJP) in Haryana, both allies of the BJP, have been rocked by disturbing bouts of dissent from senior noteworthy party leaders who have questioned the ‘autocratic’ leadership of the party.
Both SAD president Sukhbir Badal and JJP president and Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana Dushyant Chautala are in the line of fire from senior leaders within the party. The latest to join the bandwagon of rebellion in the Akali Dal is former minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who recently quit as leader of the legislative party, citing the ‘failure’ of the party under Sukhbir to live up to its founding principles and expectations of the people. Parminder was a minister for 10 years when Parkash Singh Badal was the chief minister of Punjab from 2007 to 2017.
In, where the BJP formed a post-poll alliance with JJP to form the government, 31-year-old Dushyant is in the line of fire among others from one of his seniormost party MLA Ram Kumar Gautam. Recently, Gautam quit as the national vice-president of the JJP. He accuses Dushyant of ‘holding power’ by keeping all Cabinet portfolios to himself. Denials apart, the senior JJP MLA is also unhappy over being denied a Cabinet berth.
The Opposition Congress under former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the INLD, led by former jailed CM OP Chautala, the estranged grandfather of Dushyant, have already ‘predicted’ by-elections in Haryana maintaining that the alliance will collapse.
The problem of dissent appears rampant in Punjab where many senior Akali leaders and ministers have either quit the party or have openly voiced their resentment over the leadership of Sukhbir Badal. Amid talks that the senior Badal would take over the reins of the Akali Dal to ebb rising dissent, Sukhbir was made the party president yet again last month. Parminder Singh’s father Sukhdev Dhindsa, a Rajya Sabha MP, had earlier rebelled against the party leadership in what he says is an attempt to square the circle.