In a move apparently aimed at averting a clash with Congress MP Capt Amarinder Singh’s anti-drugs rally in Amritsar on January 22, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday indefinitely put off its own show that was slated to be held that day in the holy city.
Party president Amit Shah was scheduled to launch the BJP’s anti-drugs campaign in Punjab with the Amritsar rally. However, officially citing the Delhi assembly polls to be held on February 7, the saffron party has deferred its event.
Backed by a majority of Punjab Congress MLAs, Amarinder, the Amritsar MP and deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, had on Sunday announced to hold a rally in his segment.
When contacted about the development, Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma said, “I think everyone (BJP leaders) from the state would be called to Delhi for campaigning. Our party has high stakes in the national capital and would like to come up with its best performance.”
He hastened to add: “All arrangements had already been made for the Amritsar rally. The party cadres would have been demoralised had there been no valid reason for the postponement.”
Earlier, the BJP leadership in the state had said that the Delhi polls would have no bearing on the party’s campaign against drugs in Punjab.
On Amarinder claiming moral victory in view of the BJP rally’s postponement, Sharma quipped, “If he is so popular, he must lead the Congress in the Delhi polls and prove his worth.”
Sources in the BJP said the move to defer the rally had disappointed the saffron party cadres, which had been working hard to make the event a success.
The BJP’s move is perceived to have brought relief to the Akalis. An Akali leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “They (BJP) were trying to outsmart us by organising such rallies. The deferment is good news for us.”
The BJP had not invited its ruling alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), for the January 22 rally. The BJP’s campaign was being seen as a move by the saffron party to corner the Akalis on the drug issue.