Like in Maharashtra, the BJP seems reluctant to play second fiddle to its ally in Punjab. The rift is already widening in the ranks and file of the BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal in the state, as differences surface in the leadership of the two parties over issues like release of Khalistani terrorists and the drugs menace. However, both sides admit it is too early to anticipate the fate of the alliance during state elections, which are still over two years away. “One week is too long in politics. We have seen honeymoons and euphorias don’t last. After that its only real politics that takes over. You don’t break old alliances for short term conveniences,” Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral told DNA on Saturday. He said the Delhi elections, in which the Akali Dal was fighting three seats in alliance with the BJP, would dispel the notion that cracks had developed in their ties. But, there was a view in the BJP that it should aim to be a senior partner, like it did in Maharashtra. Besides, fighting in alliance with the Akali Dal would also mean dealing with the disadvantage of anti-incumbency. On the other hand, fighting alone would mean antagonising the old ally. With several state elections to be held before Punjab, the BJP may just weigh its pros and cons before taking a call, sources said. “The question is of issues like terrorism on which we have take a stand of zero tolerance and drugs, which is affecting our youth. There should be investigation instead of politics or blame-game over it,” said BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma. He also said the BJP respected its alliance partners and despite getting a clear mandate in the Lok Sabha polls, the allies had got berths in government. But, underlying the cordial statements is the political compulsions of both parties. Akali Dal sources said there were apprehensions that Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, who was on an indefinite strike demanding that Sikh prisoners be freed, would turn into another Bhindranwale following which chief minister Prakash Singh Badal wrote to his counterparts in five states seeking release of 13 Sikh militants lodged in jails. He also gave a memorandum to home minister Rajnath Singh. However, the BJP has categorically rejected its ally’s demand. Party president Amit Shah has said the party did not agree with it. The drugs menace has become another bone of contention between the two parties. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Punjab’s drugs problem during his last “Mann ki Baat” radio address, Akali Dal president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal drew the government’s attention to drug smuggling into the border state from Pakistan and cultivation and production of drugs in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, both of which are BJP-ruled states. Akali Dal minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who is also the brother of union minister and wife of Sukhbir Singh Badal Harsimrat Kaur, appeared before the Enforcement Directorate last month in connection with Rs 6000 crore synthetic drug racket case.

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Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP alliance marred by rifts