Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be visiting Punjab on June 19 to be a part of the state government's celebrations to mark the 350th foundation day of Anandpur Sahib, HT has learnt.
While no state government functionary was willing to come on record on this, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Kamal Sharma told HT that there had never been any confirmation on Modi's visit from any level, neither from the party nor from the Prime Minister's Office and claimed that it had been a 'proposed visit'.
"Whenever Modi visits a state, the president of the local unit of the party is informed and things move in a different manner and pace than they have for his proposed visit to Anandpur Sahib," he added, claiming that a foreign dignitary was to meet Modi on June 19 and prior arrangements for that meeting had been made.
Interestingly, Sharma had skipped meetings called by state chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to discuss preparations for Modi's visit.
"There is no confirmation about his (PM Narendra Modi's) visit, but our programmes would continue uninterrupted," Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) spokesperson Dr Daljit Singh Cheema told HT over telephone.
He added that union home minister Rajnath Singh; union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi; Chhattisgarh governor Balramji Dass Tandon and chief ministers of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar and Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje, respectively, had confirmed attendance.
"All arrangements for the three-day event beginning June 17 have been finalised," Cheema claimed.
BJP had never been keen on visit
Relations between the SAD and the BJP could touch a new low with the development. The top rung of the SAD leadership is also likely to face embarrassment as it expected Modi to announce a financial package during the visit. However, BJP had not been keen on the visit and sources said the issue was discussed at the party core group meeting, on Saturday, presided over by national general secretary Ram Lal. Here, state BJP leaders reportedly put across their view that they had not been consulted before the state government invited Modi.
The recent shifting of 1993 Delhi blast convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar had also led to public expression of disapproval from state BJP president Kamal Sharma.
I don't know, if Modi is coming: Badal
Interestingly, at a function in Kapurthala on Sunday, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was unsure if Modi was coming. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accepted my personal invitation to attend the celebrations and had assured me that he would be part of the celebrations at Anandpur Sahib. However, I don't know, if he is coming as I have been told that the President of another country is coming to Delhi the same day," Badal said.
Asked to comment on state BJP leaders' claims that they had not been consulted before inviting Modi, the CM said, "Extending an invite to the Prime Minister of the country is the prerogative of every chief minister."