For Parkash Singh Badal, SAD-BJP alliance was ‘nau-mass da rishta’


Before his party walked out of the NDA over the Centre’s now repealed farm laws, Akali Dal stalwart Parkash Singh Badal used to describe the SAD-BJP tie-up as “nau-mass da rishta” — like nail and skin.
Parkash Singh Badal was admitted to the Fortis Hospital in Mohali, Punjab on April 16 after he complained of uneasiness in breathing. He died on Tuesday aged 95.
It was not that differences did not crop up over other issues between the two erstwhile allies, but Parkash Singh Badal always ensured that these were amicably resolved and the ties remained intact. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) since 1997. The SAD and BJP stitched a pre-poll alliance for the 1997 Punjab assembly polls, which later continued for over two decades.
As per the arrangement agreed to by both the erstwhile allies to fight Punjab Assembly polls, SAD used to contest 94 seats while BJP on the remaining 23 in the 117-member assembly.
In the Lok Sabha, BJP used to contest two seats out of 13 Parliamentary constituencies. This arrangement continued till 2019.
However, on September 26, 2020, the SAD snapped the over two-decade-long ties and quit the NDA over the contentious farm bills, with party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal making the announcement after holding a core committee meeting.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, the son of Parkash Singh Badal, had then said the SAD was the oldest ally of the BJP, but the central government did not listen to it in honouring the sentiments of farmers.
Both the parties contested the 2022 Punjab Assembly polls separately and faced humiliating defeats with the BJP winning just two seats while the SAD was reduced to just three seats.
Apart from farm laws, there were other issues too that put a strain on the alliance, however, Parkash Singh Badal always ensured that things were amicably resolved.
When the SAD-BJP alliance was in power from 2007 to 2012, the BJP’s state unit demanded the post of deputy chief minister which was turned down by the senior ally. In January 2013, the BJP, which was part of the coalition ruling in Punjab, opposed the construction of a memorial for those killed in Operation Blue Star of 1984. The memorial was built near the marbled periphery of the Golden Temple complex.
A few months later in July, the e-trip system introduced by the Akali government to bring transparency in transactions by traders and check tax evasion, become a bone of contention between the allies after the BJP said apprehensions of traders, who were alleging that it was causing unnecessary harassment, should be addressed.
However, as Parkash Singh Badal had a good rapport with the top leaders of the BJP, all these issues were sorted out.
Badal enjoyed good relations with several BJP leaders, including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP stalwart L K Advani. He also had a good rapport with Narendra Modi, much before he became the prime minister in 2014.
In September 2013, Parkash Singh Badal had called Modi, who was then his Gujarat counterpart and chairman of BJP’s election campaign committee, “the greatest leader” of the country.
“Gujarat is the state which gave birth to Mahatma Gandhi, which gave us Sardar Patel and now it has given ‘Sardar’ Modi to our nation,” Badal had said.
Badal was the first ally of the BJP to come out in support of Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. He said in 2013 that Modi was the most eligible person for the post of prime minister and under his leadership, a new era of unprecedented development and prosperity will usher in Punjab.
Modi, in 2015, called Badal the ‘Nelson Mandela of India’, saying “he has spent so many years in prison and that too for political reasons.”
The prime minister stated this at an event to mark Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan’s 113th birth anniversary.
Modi had even touched Badal’s feet before going to file his nomination papers from Varanasi during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.