With no let-up in the verbal duel between ministers and other leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), BJP’s Punjab affairs incharge Shanta Kumar on Friday sent a strong directive to his partymen, telling them to “avoid a public outburst” and “report to Delhi” for the redressal of grievances in case the Punjab chief minister (Parkash Singh Badal) didn’t listen to them.
Shanta pointed out that ‘things’ were worrisome in Punjab and needed course correction. “We bitterly ‘lost’ the parliamentary polls in the state, even as we won across the rest of the country. We need to learn from our mistakes and bring changes in the style of our functioning,” he said. SAD-BJP relations have hit a rough patch after the alliance won only six of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab in the recent parliamentary polls.
“In case the state government and the chief minister don’t listen, ministers and other leaders of my party should report to Delhi. Our party is in power at the Centre and there are a number of ways to resolve such issues,” Shanta told HT.
BJP’s local bodies minister Anil Joshi had recently threatened to launch a protest, demanding rollback of the controversial amendment in the Value-Added Tax (VAT) Act by which traders and manufacturers were asked to pay taxes on the stocks in their godowns. Even though the government announced a rollback of the amendment earlier this week, senior SAD leader Maheshinder Singh Grewal asked Joshi not to politicise the issue. Joshi then said that there were a number of other issues that needed to be resolved.
The SAD is also upset at the government’s criticism in the Vidhan Sabha by BJP MLAs, especially Manoranjan Kalia, who picked holes in most of the bills proposed by the government.
Earlier, state BJP president Kamal Sharma had said that the state government was functioning like a mafia. A BJP committee led by Balramji Das Tandon blamed the state government for the below-par performance in the parliamentary polls and it was decided to form a six member committee (three members each from the SAD and the BJP0 for course correction.
Shanta, who is expected to visit Punjab after the parliamentary session, said he would resolve the issues and also make the six-member committee functional. He called upon the alliance partner (SAD) to follow coalition dharma.
RESHUFFLE LIKELY IN AUGUST-END
Shanta said a reshuffle of his party’s ministers in Punjab could take place by the end of this month. The reshuffle was expected last month after Amit Shah took over as the party’s national president, but it was postponed.