The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance on Wednesday constituted a sixmember committee to resolve the issues raised in the Balramji Das Tandon committee’s report. The panel led by the senior BJP leader had been set up earlier this month to pinpoint the reasons for the alliance’s below-par performance in Punjab in the recent Lok Sabha polls.
The committee will have three leaders each from the coalition partners, even though the names are yet to be finalised. It has been given three months to recommend a plan for course correction on the basis of the Tandon committee report.
“Our main worry is how the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got four seats and 24% vote share in Punjab.
Nowhere in the country did the AAP get such a response,” said BJP MP and Punjab affairs incharge Shanta Kumar while talking to mediapersons after a meeting with Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Interestingly, the BJP leaders who till Tuesday were blaming the Akalis for the disappointing poll performance, on Wednesday held the coalition partners equally responsible. “Badal sahib also agreed that there was need for a course correction,” said Shanta.
Specifying the role of the new committee, he said it would make recommendations to the SAD-BJP government on all issues that the Tandon panel report has pointed out. The government would implement the plan for course correction.
The Tandon committee had pinpointed the issues of the drug menace, lack of clarity on property tax, traders and industrialists feeling ignored because of special favours to farmers and rural people, skyrocketing prices of sand and gravel, and the Akali halqa in-charge system, as the main reasons for the dismal performance. Overdependence on the bureaucracy, lack of contact with the public, lack of focus on basic amenities, some ‘counter-productive’ development schemes launched by the government, and too many changes in the tax system, were also reported to have led to the below-par poll results.
Though Shanta remained silent on the resignations of all four BJP ministers – Anil Joshi, Madan Mohan Mittal, Chunni Lal Bhagat and Surjit Kumar Jyani he hinted at a reshuffle within a week.
He added that after analysing the role of the state government, it was time for introspection at the organisational level.
Shanta said it was worrying that the poll results in Punjab were entirely different from those in the rest of the country. Despite the Narendra Modi wave, the coalition could win only six seats out of 13 in Punjab. “It could be inferred that people chose a third option, and this needs to be corrected,” he added.
Meanwhile, Punjab Bhawan here was abuzz with activity on Wednesday as the four BJP ministers who had quit on Tuesday, besides party MLAs eyeing berths in the cabinet, were seen seeking an audience with top leaders. Their supporters also accompanied them.
Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma, Punjab affairs coincharge Shyam Jajju and Balramji Das Tandon were present on the occasion.
‘JAITLEY’S DEFEAT SHOCKED PARTY’
Shanta Kumar accepted that the entire rank and file of the BJP was shocked by the defeat of senior party leader Arun Jaitley from Amritsar. “It happened despite the nationwide Modi wave,” he said.