Assigned by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to improve party's mass base in Patiala and Rajpura, industry minister Anil Joshi on Wednesday was on his first visit to the city.
Under the party's new directions, its cabinet ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries will visit the BJP offices all over the state. “Don't feel neglected. You are equal partners in the ruling coalition and the district administration is bound to give you due respect. If someone ignores you, call me, and your genuine works will be done on priority,” the cabinet minister told the workers of his party.
The BJP has made him its man in charge of Patiala and Rajpura districts, where they party has weak mass base. Joshi, who has Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) background, interacted with both general workers and office-bearers.
“I am a minister because of your support,” he told the workers. “I know my powers as minister and member of the legislative assembly (MLA),” he said. “I will get you equal share in power.”
The BJP got a drubbing in the two constituencies in the last assembly elections. To add insult to injury, the coalition partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), pitted proxy candidates against its nominees in the municipal elections. The BJP's tally reduced to eight from 12 in the previous contest.
State party president Kamal Sharma had assigned all ministers to take care of particular districts where the mass base needed strengthening, Joshi told the media. “Patiala is a Hindu-dominated area and we plan to galvanise the party here. “I will visit Patiala regularly and ensure that the BJP workers get due respect,” he added.
Joshi said that to defeat the Congress in the next Lok Sabha election in Patiala, his strategy was to work on unity. He denied that the SAD had ignored its coalition partner. “As MLA in the last tenure as well, I got maximum grants for my constituency from chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. We are equal partners,” he said.
Along with cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, he also met with industry representatives from the city and, in that meeting, agreed to develop industrial clusters in the Patiala region. He noted the industrialists' grievances.