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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

‘Punjab govt’ failings hit our core vote bank: BJP report

Sukhdeep Kaur , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, June 18, 2014
First Published: 10:00 IST(18/6/2014) | Last Updated: 10:02 IST(18/6/2014)

Sharing the spoils of power with the SAD, t he Punjab BJP has decided to fix the blame for the below-par performance of the ruling alliance in the recent parliamentary elections on the failings of the “Punjab government”.

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Still to recover from the shock defeat of BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley from Amritsar, the party’s seven-member fact-finding committee constituted to look into the poor showing by the alliance has focused on how Punjab government’s policies and handling of issues hit its core vote bank, comprising urban voters, traders and industries.

The report, which will be submitted this week to Punjab BJP affairs in-charge Shanta Kumar, will serve as the blueprint to check the saffron party’s vote bank erosion. The committee headed by senior BJP leader Balramji Dass Tandon is compiling the report after brainstorming on the reasons in three-four meetings.

In what is a scathing indictment of the excise and taxation department headed by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, the panel has listed “extraction of money” from traders and industries by officials of the excise and taxation department by issuing notifications as one of the reasons for the party losing their support.

The report also cites that traders and industry faced harassment due to undue delays in refund of value added tax while imposition of property tax and the government’s “inept” handling of sand and gravel and drug mafia issues eroded the party’s urban base. It has also listed SAD’s system of appointing halqa in-charges as a factor that worked to the alliance’s disadvantage.

Now asser ting itself l i ke never before, the BJP, however, contends that many f actors listed by it were also cited by Akali Dal leaders during their introspection meeting.

“Even Akali leaders said during the core committee meeting that drugs and sand and gravel issues hit them hard, so did the system of halqa in-charges. We are not just looking at our own tally of two out of three seats but the alliance’s performance of six out of 13,” Tandon told HT.

Among the reasons for the BJP being alarmed is also the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab. Steering clear of the controversy surrounding the recent outbursts of BJP leaders against the Akali Dal, Shanta Kumar said, “We are hurt by the results in Punjab at a time when we did so well in other states. AAP winning four seats is a cause of concern. It is an introspection report and will form the blueprint for complete revival of the BJP in Punjab.”

On the resignation by BJP minister Anil Joshi following Jaitley’s defeat, Kumar said it was not taken into consideration as the party would decide on its future course of action only after looking into the factors listed in the factfinding report.

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