Punjab elections have been done and dusted as of Saturday and looking back, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) coalition must have a lot to worry about. The foremost among their worries would be how exactly did the support it received from the controversial godman and social reformer Ram Rahim Singh’s Dera Sacha Sauda pan out. Many leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) feel that the support that was extended to the party by controversial sect and it’s alliance partner BJP for the Assembly elections may have an opposite and undesirable effect on the party. The leaders believe that the panthic voter – who is the core vote bank of the Akali party – may have been alienated due to its growing closeness to the Dera whose views have generated a number of controversies over the years. Moreover, they are already unhappy with the party over acts of sacrilege issues.
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SAD found itself in a tough situation when the Dera Sacha Sauda announced its decision to extend support to the SAD-BJP alliance in the Punjab Assembly polls and this move was widely criticised by the Sikhs in the state, claiming the accord will hurt the party. Before the elections, SAD senior vice-president and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee member Karnail Singh Panjoli on February 2 had also lodged a written complaint with the Akal Takht seeking action against all those Akali Dal candidates who have taken the support of Dera Sacha Sauda in the Assembly elections thereby violating the edict issued by the supreme Sikh institution.
The traditional Panthic votebank had largely been faithful to Shiromani Akali Dal, though with rise in bipolar politics in Punjab, Aam Admi Party (AAP) too followed the strategy of drawing Panthic votes.
Punjab polls were conducted on Saturday, had the highest polling in Mansa (87.34 percent) and the lowest in SAS Nagar (71.9 per cent) and with the final polling percentage of 78.62%. Punjab and Goa are the two states that have gone to polling. In the offing are Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Uttarakhand. The counting of votes for all five states will begin on March 11.