Amit Shah meets Sukhbir Badal, two discuss Punjab polls    

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New Delhi, Feb 9: After concerns were raised over "lack of coordination" in NDA, BJP President Amit Shah today met Shiromani Akali Dal leaders at his residence and discussed with them the joint strategy for the Punjab polls slated early next year.

SAD chief and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal later trashed talks of strains between the two parties, calling the alliance "permanent" and claiming there were "no differences" between them.

Shah-Badal discuss Punjab polls

Sukhbir Badal, who had raised the issue of coordination at NDA's meeting yesterday, met Shah along with senior Akali leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Naresh Gujral and spent over an hour with him.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was also present during the dinner meeting where the leaders of the two parties discussed the strategy for the state assembly polls.

"The Akali Dal and BJP are like one party and would not just contest the next election together but also elections in next 20 years.

"We discussed with the BJP chief the strategy on how to win the next election and would soon form a core committee to work on it and help improve coordination between the alliance partners," Badal told reporters after the meeting.

He said there was no question of breaking the alliance between the two parties. Asked about any change in seat-sharing formula, he said there could be swapping of some seats but BJP would contest 23 and the Akali Dal the remaining out of a total of 117 assembly constituencies in the state. Badal also rejected as " media speculation" talk of any rift between the two parties.

The issue of alliance between the two parties had come up at the core committee meeting of BJP held at Jaitley's residence on Saturday where some leaders had expressed apprehension over its continuance. Apart from the Congress, the ruling alliance will be up against AAP, which has emerged as a force to reckon with in the state.

Badal had yesterday sought better coordination in NDA and said the allies should not be taken "for granted" as they have stood with BJP through thick and thin.

During the meeting, Shah was learnt to have raised the issue of rising acrimony between BJP and Akali leaders in certain parts of Punjab and stressed on their working in tandem to strengthen the alliance.

In yesterday's NDA meeting, it was decided that party to party issues will be discussed bilaterally and there would be frequent interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on developmental matters.

NDA MPs would also be briefed periodically about various important initiatives, central schemes and assistance extended to states.

Today's meeting was part of an exercise to sort out issues among various NDA allies. Earlier in the day, Shah met TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and would be meeting leaders of other NDA constituents in the coming days.

BJP has termed the meetings as "routine" that will help in improved coordination between NDA partners for better floor management to counter the opposition effectively within Parliament and outside.

PTI 

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