In an apparent bid to cash in on public anger against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the drug menace, its alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is appealing to people to become party members in order to ensure a "drug-free Punjab".
After launching its membership drive with much fanfare here recently, the state unit of the party has sent 1 crore SMSes in this regard.
The message, being sent in the name of state BJP chief Kamal Sharma, reads: "Sohne, khushal atey nasha-mukt Punjab layi chalo Modiji de naal (For a prosperous and drug-free Punjab, let's go with Modi)."
For this purpose, the party has hired Delhi-based company Net Core, which has provided data base consisting of prominent personalities from all sections of society. This data base includes more than 60% persons in the age group of 21-35 years. The messages' delivery started on Thursday evening.
The party intends to add 5 lakh members to its existing tally of around 10 lakh in Punjab.Political observers feel that the SMS campaign is part of an astute strategy adopted by the saffron party to expand its base in Punjab.
After the alliance's below-par performance in this year's Lok Sabha polls, the state BJP has been time and again taking potshots at the SAD over the drug issue.
The party also tried to corner the SAD by demanding the resignation of chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Avinash Chandar, whose name has allegedly been linked to the multi-crore drug racket in the probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
A senior BJP leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, "The party's think tank feels that there is strong resentment against the SAD over the drug issue. Even the opposition Congress has failed to show seriousness to eradicate the drug menace. Since the public's faith in the BJP is increasing ever since Modi became the PM, people are hoping that the party will do something concrete over the issue. And the party is working on those lines. Drugs is an issue that we are planning to raise on every forum."
When asked about the objective of the SMS drive, state BJP chief Kamal Sharma said the campaign should not be given a political colour.
"If the BJP is raising the drug issue, it should not be concluded that we are against the Akalis. The drug menace is an issue that needs not only the state governments' attention but also support from all quarters," he said.
Sharma said since Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his recent radio programme 'Man Ki Baat', had raised the issue of drugs, it was a nationwide issue rather than a Punjab-specific one for the BJP.
"Even during campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls, Modi had promised to make Punjab drug-free. We are working towards that target," Sharma added