The Punjab leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday gave party president Amit Shah a deeper insight into their "dukh-dard" (pain) and questioned the logic of staying in an unhappy marriage with the Akalis.
In his address at the unit's active members conference here a day before, Shah had said that the party high-command understood their "dukh-dard", a remark that gave the state BJP leaders the confidence to speak out at their core committee meeting soon thereafter.
All state-level office-bearers and district party presidents, besides present and past MPs and legislators, who were at the meeting with all state ministers from the party, gave vent to their ire against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and told him that "every wrong of the Akalis dents the BJP image". Asked about the meeting, state BJP president Kamal Sharma said: "It was about Punjab's political situation." Asked whether the differences with the SAD had been discussed, he said: "When I say political situation, it covers everything there is to cover."
Many of the other senior leaders gathered to launch the next phase of the membership campaign on Sunday here did not hesitate to say that "everything issue with the Akalis - patronising of the drug, cable, land, liquor, transport and sand mafia - was discussed. Even the latest Moga bus incident was put before Shah".
One of the senior BJP leaders said on the condition of anonymity that the meeting with Shah provided them with "a platform to complain against the arrogance of the Akalis". "Leaders from the Malwa, Majha as well as the Doaba belt had bad experiences to share. We demanded that our self-respect be restored," he said.
"Some of us spoke about the manner in which Akali ministers, particularly deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, interfered in the affairs of our ministries, overturned our decisions, and belittled us," said a BJP minister. Senior leaders pointed to the "bullying tactics" of the Akalis during the recent municipal elections, in which the brother of local bodies minister Anil Joshi had come under assault in Tarn Taran.
"The majority opinion was in favour of putting an end to the alliance with the Akalis and go it alone in the 2017 assembly elections, as we can no longer bear humiliation," a party legislator said.
Shah assured them that, in due course, their problems would be solved.