Lack of cohesiveness in the party’s stand on key issues, including the frosty ties with partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), is set to be the prime matter of debate at Punjab BJP’s state executive and core committee meetings scheduled for Friday at Phagwara.
In the meetings that are likely to be stormy, certain senior leaders are likely to rake up how fissures in the state leadership were wide open after state BJP chief Kamal Sharma demanded the resignation of SAD leader and revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned him in a case of drugs.
“While the state unit chief demanded Majithia’s resignation, the rest of the leadership was not clear over the issue,” said a leader, requesting anonymity.
Vidhan Sabha embarrassment
Another case in point is the embarrassing position of the party in the Vidhan Sabha when the Congress moved a no-confidence motion against the SAD-BJP regime after the BJP demanding Majithia’s resignation. The party was accused of double standards on the drug issue as it has been criticising the Akalis over it despite being their partners.
“Thankfully for us, SAD MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha created the blunder of calling himself a terrorist, and it diverted attention from the BJP; Otherwise, we would have been exposed badly,” said a senior MLA of the saffron party from the Doaba region.
Kamal camp says
On the other hand, leaders from Kamal Sharma’s group are set to bring up few leaders still following “dictates” of the SAD on various issues, even when when the BJP at the national level has signaled that the party is in mood of being friendly with the Akalis on the issue of drugs.
“Some leaders deliberately tried to neutralise the Majithia resignation issue by giving statements that there was no need for it. Even some ministers gave statements. It’s a crucial time for the party and all leaders must follow the top leadership,” said a senior party functionary from the Kamal camp.
Increasing tension within the BJP leadership in Phagwara — between chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and local MLA Som Parkash, and former minister Chaudhary Swarna Ram — is also likely to cast its shadow over the meetings.
Supporters of Swarna Ram have announced a demonstration outside the meeting venue demanding apology from Som Parkash over some “objectionable” remarks. The former minister has demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into properties earned by Som Parkash, a former IAS officer.
Agenda on paper: Polls
For the record, BJP state secretary Subhash Sharma said the meetings would see discussion on the party’s preparedness for civic body polls scheduled in February, besides the outlining of the January 22 anti-drug drive to be inaugurated by BJP national president Amit Shah, and the ongoing membership drive.
Sources said the party’s MLA from Surat in Gujarat, Harsh Sanghvi, has been deputed by Shah to oversee arrangements for the January 22 rally scheduled at Amritsar.
The BJP has been increasingly aggressive against the SAD since a below-par show in Punjab in the Lok Sabha polls, in which the drug menace emerged as a major issue.
Shah’s rally would be saffron party’s first independent political rally of such a scale since its tie-up with the Akalis, and comes close on the heels of the SAD’s anti-drugs agitation where deputy chief minister and SAD president had shifted the blame to some BJP-ruled states.