By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Oct 24 (Agency)
All set to assume power in Haryana for the first time this Sunday, the BJP in the state is wary of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal leaders coming for the swearing-in ceremony of Manohar Lal Khattar.
The Akali Dal had allied with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the Haryana assembly polls, much to the annoyance of the state Bharatiya Jantaa Party.
Badal, whose Akali Dal is the BJP's ally in neighbouring Punjab, said Friday that Badal would attend the swearing-in ceremony if he was extended an invitation.
"If extended an invitation, I will surely attend the swearing in ceremony," Badal said in Ludhiana, 120 km from here.
A senior functionary in the Badal government told IANS Friday evening: "Badal has been invited for the swearing in. The invitation has come through the Resident Commissioner. Badal is attending the event."
Senior sources in the Haryana BJP told IANS that the state unit was "wary" of Badal, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, Punjab's deputy chief minister, and other Akali Dal leaders vis-a-vis the swearing-in ceremony.
"Badal, Sukhbir and other Akali leaders openly campaigned for the INLD in the elections. The Akali Dal sided with the INLD to oppose the BJP," a senior Haryana BJP leader told IANS here.
The BJP was upset with the Badals and the Akali Dal for allying with the INLD in Haryana. Badal justified the move saying that he had personal ties with the INLD leadership.
While the BJP got a clear majority, 47 seats in the 90-member assembly, the INLD finished second with 19 seats. The Akali Dal won one seat.
BJP leader and former Amritsar MP cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu had openly hit out at the Badals and the Akali Dal during the election campaign in Haryana.
Sidhu accused the Badals of "back-stabbing" the BJP in Haryana by tying up with the INLD.
Sidhu has no love lost for the Badals and the Akali Dal as he was eased out of the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency from where he was elected thrice (2004, 2007 by-poll and 2009), at the behest of the Badals in the Lok Sabha battle this year.
The BJP fielded senior leader Arun Jaitley, now the union finance and defence minister, but he lost by over one lakh votes to Congress leader and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.
An upset Sidhu did not campaign for Jaitley at all.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states are likely to participate in Khattar's swearing-in ceremony.
Khattar will be the first BJP leader to be the chief minister in Haryana. The BJP will form a government for the first time since Haryana was born in 1966.
BJP's in-charge for Haryana Anil Jain said the prime minister was sent an invitation for the swearing-in. "He (prime minister) has accepted the invite."
BJP leaders said chief ministers of BJP-ruled states were likely to attend the event: Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Vasundhra Raje (Rajasthan), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) and Anandiben Patel (Gujarat).
Senior BJP leaders, including national president Amit Shah, union ministers and others are also likely to attend.
The swearing in will take place in Sector 5 of Panchkula town in Haryana, 15 km from here. In the past, the ceremony was held at the Haryana Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh.