Akali, BJP crisis blows over in Punjab

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Chandigarh, May 13 (UNI) The political crisis in Punjab following yesterday's violence in the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti polls, has blown over with the ruling coalition partners, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP maintaining that ''their coalition was strong as ever before''.

''The SAD, BJP alliance which is one of the oldest in the country is as strong as it was before'', BJP national secretary Balbir Punj, who is incharge of the party's Punjab affairs said after a marathon four hour meeting at Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's residence here today.

Addressing mediapersons alongwith Mr Badal, the BJP leader said that the Chief Minister had given them a patient hearing and has addressed all their issues. In this context he referred to yesterday's violence during the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) polls in which BJP supporters were targeted and beaten by workers of the SAD at a number of places, including in Tarn Taran district where a BJP MLA was attacked and his vehicle was torched.

Prior to the meeting with the Chief Minister, a meeting of the state Core Committee of BJP and its legislatures took place at the partys Punjab headquarters here and discussed at length the 'behaviour' of Akali leaders towards the BJP leaders and workers during the elections yesterday. All senior leaders including Mr Punj, state chief Rajinder Bhandari, MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and Ministers-- Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Swarna Ram, Tikshan Sud, Manoranjan Kalia and Master Mohan Lal were present at the meeting.

The BJP leaders sought a meeting with the Chief Minister to air their grievances. The Chief Minister, who had also summoned senior leaders of his party, agreed to meet the BJP leaders at his residence.

Intially, there were reports that the five BJP Ministers may quit the Cabinet and hand over their resignations to Mr Badal. Prior to moving to Mr Badal's residence, Mr Punj told mediapersons that all options were ''open to them'', though he made no reference to the resignation of the ministers.

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