Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah offered Punjab's saffron leaders no immediate solution to the problems with ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) but his assurance that the party high-command understood their agony is some consolation.
"I know your 'dukh-dard' (anguish). We will find a solution to this," he said addressing the Active Members Conference of the Punjab BJP unit on Saturday here. It won him applause from the leaders on the stage and the workers below; and many came down the dais and went into a closed-door meeting of the unit's core committee with confidence that they could speak their hearts out against the bullying tactics of the Akalis.
Mantra of mass contact
"With nearly 23 lakh members, the Punjab BJP has grown big enough to be independent. Take it to every, every household; you'll fire a cure to your 'dard' (pain). Explain to people the achievements and programmes of the Narendra Modi government and you will see the party move forward," he said at the end of his half-hour speech.
As expected, the BJP president touched upon the problem of drug addiction in Punjab, appealing to the young Punjabis in particular not to destroy their lives and families. He had failed to launch the party's anti-drug campaign in the state in January, which people had interpreted as sign of being scared by the 'Lalkar Rally' of the Congress, which Captain Amarinder Singh, local member of Parliament, had addressed.
This time, Shah told the party workers to go to every household and educate people about the drug menace.
Donning a saffron turban presented by state party leaders, he tried to argue in favour of the land acquisition bill, saying it was "not against farmers but to protect their interests". He told the party workers to explain it to the farming community.
"Not an inch of farmland will be taken away to be given to corporate houses. We will provide the farmers with alternative land for agriculture," he said, adding that the Congress had ignored cultivators all these years. "Pardhan Manri Irrigation Yojana will bring another 12% of the cultivable land under irrigation and then we have Soil Health Yojana coming up. Did the Congress ever think about improving soil health? In its regime, the norm for compensation was 50% damage to crop, a limit Modiji brought down to 33%," he added.
He said the tag of "corporate's sarkar" that had come to the BJP government belonged to the erstwhile Congress regime that had auctioned coal mines and 2G spectrum in a manner to benefit a few business houses. Aware that the BJP had little or no base among Punjab's farmers, even its national organisational secretary Ram Lal, Union minister Vijay Sampla, and state party president Kamal Sharma spoke about the land acquisition bill.
'Cong is corrupt'
Holding the Congress responsible for the numerous scams reported during the previous UPA (United Progressive Alliance) rule, Shah said: "Poor Manmohan Singhji (former PM) sat in one corner, while the Congress leaders enjoyed the benefits of the scams."
He said the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government had ended corruption, controlled price rise, ensured transparency, made the borders safe, and brought in Jan Dhan Scheme to give every family a bank account. He also referred to the health and life insurance schemes coming up for poor people.
Referring to the impact of the foreign visits of Modi, he said now world over, Indians were proud of their identity. He gave the Punjab BJP workers 11 months to make every household in Punjab aware of these achievements.
He lauded the membership drive in Punjab, saying that with more than 10 crore members, the BJP had become world's largest party.
Pays obeisance at Golden Temple
After the state unit core-committee meeting, Shah paid obeisance at the Golden Temple, where he received a Siropa and a replica of the shrine from Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). He also prayed at Durgiana Mandir and visited Jallianwala Bagh to pay tributes to martyrs of the freedom movement. He will visit Ram Tirath on Sunday before going back to New Delhi.
'Rahul sees through Italian glasses'
Reacting to the remarks from Rahul Gandhi that there was no change in the country's security scene, as bullets were still flying at the border, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah said: "You wear Italian pair of spectacles, so you see no difference."
In the statement that alluded to the Congress vice-president's half foreign blood and alleged foreigner's perspective, Shah added: "During the UPA, rule firing started from Pakistan and ended from that side. Now (under Modi's rule), it starts from Pakistan but ends when India chooses to."
Meeting with Badal
On his arrival from Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP president went to the Circuit House where chief ninister Parkash Singh Badal had come to greet him. They had a closed-door meeting for about two hours. All senior leaders of the state were all at the Active Members Conference venue. When Shah got there, he made no reference in his speech to his meeting with the CM.