Aimed at formulating a strategy for the Punjab assembly polls due early next year, the two-day BJP state executive meeting ended here on Saturday on a stormy note. The Day-1 bombshell by party MLA Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, that “red beacon vehicles ferry drugs in Punjab ” and “there is nothing left for the BJP in Punjab now”, cast a shadow on Day 2, with senior leaders demanding action against her.
She also came under attack for her statement that her husband, Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu won’t attend Punjab BJP core committee meetings till the alliance with the Shiromani Akali (SAD) continued. The first sharp attack came from Punjab Khadi Board vice-chairman Harjit Grewal, considered the right-hand man of state BJP chief Vijay Sampla, who demanded disciplinary action against leaders “demeaning the party”, it is learnt. Later, Sampla at a press conference claimed to have not yet read statements by Sidhu, who is also a chief parliamentary secretary (CPS).
Grewal was quoted as saying, “By giving such statements against their own government, some leaders are demeaning the party and creating big embarrassment for the alliance. When it is clear that the party high command has decided to contest the polls with the SAD, it’s very bad on our part to target the government’s functioning.”
Health minister Surjit Jyani, too, said that targeting chief minister Parkash Singh Badal by “some party leaders” was “derailing the agenda of the government”. The party was left with no answers when media grilled ministers on such issues, he said. At the same time, the issue of some controversial appointments by Sampla in Kapurthala district was also raised by Phagwara MLA and CPS Som Parkash.
Parkash, who remains at loggerheads with Sampla, cited appointment of Pankaj Chawla, against whom a criminal complaint is pending, as block unit president for Phagwara. “On the one hand, the party says sitting MLAs have to work hard to get re-elected; whereas on the other hand we are not kept in the loop and leaders with criminal background are appointed on key posts. Will people vote for us if we go with such criminals? I have never seen such a state of affairs in the party,” said Parkash as he stood to raise his points before BJP’s national secretary (organisation) Ram Lal. A delegation of 20 councillors led by Parkash also met Ram Lal demanding Chawla’s removal.
Next meeting in Oct
Later, Sampla gave some details of the meeting at a press conference and said the next state executive meeting would be held on October 1 and 2. Further, he said the party would hold four rallies, one each focused on farmers, Dalits, women and the youth, in the coming months. “If all goes well, the meeting of party’s national executive too would be held in Punjab before the elections,” he added.
Drug menace: Sampla defends Centre, contradicts Sukhbir
Contradicting the claims of deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal that deployment of Border Security Force (BSF) personnel along the Punjab border was far less due to which drugs easily flowed into the state, BJP state unit chief and Union minister Vijay Sampla said there was no need to increase the BSF strength. “Our soldiers are guarding the borders effectively, and the situation has improved,” he said in response to media queries at the end of the two-day BJP state executive meeting. Sampla had earlier denied that Punjab has a drug abuse problem, arguing that if it existed, “why haven’t any rave parties been busted in the state?” On statements by Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu that drugs were being ferried in official vehicles in Punjab, Sampla said: “I have not read such a thing.”