Amid speculations of preparing ground for contesting the next Punjab assembly polls alone, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to strengthen its base in rural areas of the state by adding 3 lakh new members through a membership drive that started on Saturday across the country.
Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma while interacting with select mediapersons here on Saturday admitted that on the directions of the party high command they will increase base across Punjab with a special thrust on rural areas where they do not have a significant presence.
“The party is going to add about 5 lakh members in the state. Of this, 3 lakh members will be from rural areas. The figure was around 7 lakh during the last membership drive,” said Sharma.
Sharma, who arrived here after meeting the party high command in New Delhi, said the party workers’ morale and enthusiasm in Punjab had touched a new high after BJP’s historical win in neighboring Haryana.
“I apprised the BJP top brass about the ground reality and the general feeling among the party workers. The party high command is also keeping a close eye on Punjab,” he said.
Over the possibility of a deadlock with alliance partner SAD on the issue of distribution of seats in the upcoming local bodies elections, Sharma said the BJP definitely wanted more seats keeping in view the increasing popularity of the party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said there was no set formula for distribution of seats and both the parties had contested the previous civic body polls keeping in mind understanding between them.
“Hopefully, the SAD will co-operate with us over seat sharing after analysing various factors. During deliberations with the party rank and file, workers are asking us to contest on more seats in these elections,” said Sharma.
Whether the party is ready to go alone if the seat-sharing arrangement does not work, Sharma evaded a direct response, saying, “Nothing can be ruled out in politics.”
Over the party’s demand for resignation of SAD’s chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Avinash Chandar after he was questioned by the enforcement directorate in the multi-crore drug racket, the BJP state chief said it is up to the Akalis to take call on the issue.
“Our view is that a leader whose name cropped up in such a serious issue should not hold an important post like that of a CPS and face a free and fair probe. I do not know what the CM has to say over this. As an alliance partner, our stand is that he must resign as if he is holding the post since the government’s image is getting dented,” said Sharma.