BJP-SAD split wide open in Patiala
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Rift between the two partners in the ruling alliance in Punjab came to fore on Thursday after the district unit of BJP boycotted a dinner hosted for SAD and BJP candidates by Cabinet Minister Surjit Singh Rakhra in Patiala.
BJP president (Urban) Patiala Arun Gupta said his party decided to boycott the dinner hosted by Rakhra after SAD remained a "mute spectator to the police excesses committed by police on BJP candidates".
Gupta alleged that senior SAD leader Surjit Singh Kohli fielded candidates in three wards from where BJP candidates were contesting. "The alliance dharma was violated in the process, but SAD initiated no action againt Kohli," Gupta alleged.
Notably, Gupta was among the BJP losers. He had contested from ward number 19. "Four SAD candidates were fielded by Kohli from Ward 19 to make sure that I was defeated," Gupta said.
He added that all the seven winning candidates and eight who lost the municipal corporation polls in Patiala decided against attending the dinner in protest. "We have also conveyed our decision to the BJP high command in Punjab," he added.
However, Rakhra, who hosted the dinner, claimed that it were the councillors who had organised the feast. "I was one among those who were invited there," he added.
Refuting Gupta's allegations, Rakhra said it was not possible that any police excess could have taken place when "BJP minister Surjit Kumar Jayani was himself present to support the party in Patiala".
He denied that SAD was responsible for the defeat of BJP candidates. "If BJP thinks there were police excesses, they should lodge a formal complaint," Rakhra added.
Surjit Singh Kohli's son Ajitpal Singh Kohli, who has been the Patiala Mayor, also refuted the allegations and hit back at Gupta. "We would have fielded SAD candidates in all the 15 seats from where BJP contested, had we had any intention to defeat them. The fact is that in the recent assembly polls, SAD lost by 22 thousand votes from the said 15 wards of the BJP candidates. One should accept the defeat and not level baseless allegations," Kohli added.
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