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Punjab polls: JD-U to join hands with United Akali Dal

Though keen on expanding his political reach ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Nitish wants to tread cautiously as he has to contend with the political agenda of a Sikh-centric party.

THE JD(U) is set to join hands with the United Akali Dal led by Mokham Singh in Punjab ahead of the assembly elections in the state next year.

“We want a close rapport with (JD-U chief) Nitish Kumar, who alone is currently capable of providing able leadership to the country,” Mokham Singh told The Indian Express over the phone.

He did not spell out the details of the proposed arrangement between the two parties. However, he said, “Two formulations of Nitish — making Bihar ‘nasha-mukt’ and making India ‘Sangh-mukt’ — have drawn us towards him.”

“We want to make Punjab free of drug trafficking and banish the RSS from our state,” Singh added.

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In a lighter vein, he said, “We have a lot more in common with each other, starting with the English letter ‘U’ (for United), which distinguishes the names of our parties from those with identical nomenclatures.”

JD(U) secretary-general K C Tyagi said, “I have met Mokham Singhji and Nitishji has mandated me to attend the United Akali Dal convention in Amritsar, scheduled for September 9, as an observer.” The meeting has been convened by Mokham Singh to gauge the mood of the workers before taking crucial decisions regarding his future course of action.

Though keen on expanding his political reach ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Nitish wants to tread cautiously as he has to contend with the political agenda of a Sikh-centric party on the one hand and guard against the alienation of Hindus on the other. Mokham Singh, a Damdami Taksal product, has been positioning himself as a nationalist even while undertaking to advance Sikh aspirations and interests. “We want Nitish to lead the country because we want a strong India,” he said.

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Mokham Singh, who hit the headlines in 2015 by organising a big “Sarbat Khalsa” convention, had extended his support to AAP candidates in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. When asked if he was open to joining hands with the AAP in the assembly polls, he said: “We had backed them, but now what we get to know about them is not very encouraging… Their own graph and public support are both not looking up… However, our main goal is the defeat of the Congress and the Akali Dal-BJP combine.”

First published on: 02-09-2016 at 12:47:00 am
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