As newly-appointed Punjab affairs in-charge of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) JP Ram Shankar Katheria arrives here on Tuesday on a two-day visit, the state unit has decided to carry forward the discussions on expanding the party in the state.
Unit to take up expansion with him
Whether it is more representation in the civic body polls, which are round the corner, or the party’s share in the state assembly, the state unit has decided to take it up with the new in-charge.
“Apart from expanding the party’s base in the state in terms of members, a mandate from the state top brass, we will also take up the issue of expanding our representation in the government, increasing seat sharing with coalition partner Shiromani Akali Dal, resolving issues concerning the BJP and its electorate,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP leader also stressed that though party high command may have clarified that alliance with the Akalis was intact, the were asked to expand the party and play a bigger role in the government.
Focus on consolidation
Referring to union minister Arun Jaitley’s statement on Saturday where clarified that BJP-SAD alliance was intact, he said, “Things have changed drastically with Narendra Modi taking over as the Prime Minister. We will consolidate our position in every town and village of the state.” Agra MP Katheria (50), a doctorate and a writer, replaced veteran leader Shanta Kumar, 30 years his senior.
Kumar, who enjoyed closeness with the SAD and its top leader Parkash Singh Badal, lately raised the issues of lack of financial discipline in the state and asked the government to cut wasteful expenditure.
It seems the last ditch effort by Kumar to save his post fetched no result and the party preferred Katheria over him.
The dalit leader
Party insiders revealed that the high command wanted Katheria to be more assertive and aggressive in his functioning. Also, Katheria is a Dalit. Punjab has the highest percentage of Dalit population.
“I am aware of what is happening in Punjab, and further course of action will be worked out after discussions with the party leader in state,” Katheria told HT.
He will meet the party core committee in state, the legislative group and different wings of the party.