A day after Punjab Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders alleged “discrimination and humiliation” at the hands of their alliance partner in the state, the saffron party’s national president Amit Shah has invited Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Badal for a meeting to convey the feelings of the state unit.
Sources in the BJP said Sukhbir was called by Shah on Sunday morning and was invited for discussion on Monday in Delhi.
The invitation to discuss “some serious issues” concerning the coalition in Punjab came a day after Shah and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who’s been having a say on Punjab affairs for many years, held one-on-one discussion with the core group members over whether to continue the alliance with the SAD or not.
“The party is not in a hurry to reach any conclusion over the future of alliance in Punjab and wants to give time to SAD,” said a senior BJP leader privy to the developments in Delhi.
State BJP chief Kamal Sharma, when contacted, confirmed that the meeting between Shah and Sukhbir was on the cards. “Both the party chiefs will meet but I cannot disclose when,” he said.
Sources said Jaitley is also likely to attend the meeting to discuss the political scenario in Punjab and the strained ties between leaders of the two parties.
After listening to the grievances of the 15-member core group on Saturday in Delhi, Shah and Jaitley had assured their party leaders that they would convey their (Punjab BJP leaders) feelings to the SAD leadership.
Sources said Shah is likely to put forward an agenda before Sukhbir suggesting some urgent measures that need to be taken at the government level and ensure respect to Punjab BJP leaders.
When contacted, media adviser to Sukhbir, Jangveer Singh, said the SAD chief is in Delhi and is set to meet political leaders. “I can’t confirm specifically if the deputy CM will meet BJP national chief. Meeting senior BJP leaders is a routine affair to hold talks on various issues,” said Jangveer.
Punjab leaders surprised at high command’s stance
Many leaders who attended Sunday’s meeting with Shah and Jaitley told HT that they were astonished at the sudden stand taken by the party high command over the prospectus of SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab.
“We all were anticipating that the agenda of the meet would be discussing the new state party chief and other governance-related issues. But the way Shah and Jaitley asked specific questions about the SAD performance it shows that the party high command has finally started taking state unit leaders seriously,” said a core group member.