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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

BJP continues to toe Akali line

Harkirat Singh, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, August 22, 2013
First Published: 20:05 IST(22/8/2013) | Last Updated: 20:10 IST(22/8/2013)

Chief parliamentary secretary and BJP MLA Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu's outburst, mainly directed at her own state party leadership, has underlined the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues to play second fiddle to its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), in Punjab.

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Rather than finding fault with the Akalis, Dr Sidhu blamed the state BJP leadership for the neglect of the party's constituencies. She also alleged that Punjab BJP leaders refused to stand by her husband, Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, when he decided to leave the city as some of his pet projects had been jeopardised by the state government at the behest of 'powerful' Akali leaders.

State BJP chief Kamal Sharma is at the centre of Dr Sidhu's criticism for failing to assert himself and come to the defence of his party MLAs and colleagues. Sharma has apparently made no effort to meet Navjot Singh Sidhu and bring him back to his constituency, though he did acknowledge that Sidhu was still the best bet for the party from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

In the absence of a strong leader, the BJP has time and again succumbed to the Akalis' pressure tactics. Gone are the days when the saffron party had stalwarts like Dr Baldev Parkash, Hit Abhilashi and Yagya Dutt Sharma in Punjab.

While Parkash and others had their way with the party high command, the current leaders at best complain against the Akalis. Eventually, they abide by whatever is dictated in Delhi and come back only to be led by Akali leaders, who seem to have a greater say with BJP president Rajnath Singh and other top leaders. The fact that the BJP's seat tally dropped from 19 in the 2007 polls - when it helped formed the coalition government   to 12 in 2012 has weakened its position in the state.

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