In an upbeat mood after the high-profile visit of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to Madhopur last month, Punjab unit of the BJP would hold a two-day meeting of its executive in the holy city on Sunday, primarily to discuss the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
BJP national president Rajnath Singh would inaugurate the meeting at the SG Resorts along the Amritsar bypass. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal would receive the BJP chief at the Golden Temple complex but would not be present at the inaugural address of Rajnath to the state BJP office-bearers and executive body members.
The attendance of BJP's high-profile Lok Sabha member from Amritsar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, is still in doubt.
State BJP president Kamal Sharma on Saturday reviewed the arrangements for the meeting, to be held in Amritsar after around two decades, along with vice-president Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina and general secretary Tarun Chugh. This would be the first meeting of the state BJP since Sharma assumed charge as chief of the saffron party in Punjab.
"It is a very important meeting for the party. Of course, discussions will centre around the strategy for the next Lok Sabha poll and Rajnath's message to us will be very important in this context," Sharma told media persons.
The BJP won only from Amritsar seat in the 2009 general election, losing the Hoshiarpur (reserved) and Gurdaspur seats. Amid hopes of NDA return to power at the Centre, the Punjab BJP hopes to win all three seats in the coming election.
Sharma said that Rajnath would depart after delivering the inaugural address but other leaders like former Himachal CM Shanta Kumar, incharge of Punjab party affairs, general secretary and co-incharge JP Nadda, Shyam Jaju and national organising secretary Ram Lal would remain present. Another prominent figure present on the occasion would be national vice-president Laxmi Kanta Chawla.
The presence of Ram Lal at the meeting assumes significance as he would hold a review meeting of the organisational structure of the Punjab BJP and was likely to propose some changes to strengthen the state unit.
Asked about other issues likely to be discussed, the Punjab BJP president said that the party performance over the last one year or so would also be reviewed, apart from its showing in the zila parishad and block samiti and recent panchayat polls. It would identify the weak areas and invite suggestions for further improvements.
"Basically, the meeting will be open to suggestions, so that we come to know our weak points and make amends. The idea is to get the party into election mode and be ready to face the electorate," he added.
At the end of the second day, the meeting would prepare a political resolution and invite suggestions. Thereafter, the resolution would be passed.
According to BJP sources, the executive would also review the performance of Punjab ministers, namely Anil Joshi, Chunni Lal Bhagat, Madan Mohan Mittal and Surjit Kumar Jayani, and their rapport with the BJP workers and even the public.
The meeting would also discuss its relations with ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The BJP chief and the central leaders might have to listen to complaints about SAD leaders attempting to subdue BJP rank and file and the senior leadership not coming to their assistance.
"Badal Sahib is like a father figure to us. He has always been the guiding spirit for the SAD-BJP alliance," said Sharma without offering any other comment.
Asked about cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu's participation, Sharma said, "I hope he makes it to the meeting. A state general secretary of the party spoke to him and extended an invitation for the meeting and Sidhu promised that he will try his best to make it."
Sharma pointed out that he also spoke to Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, the Amritsar MP's wife and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS). He claimed that Dr Sidhu assured him that her husband would try his best to come.
There was however no word from Sidhu himself and all efforts to contact him proved futile. Sidhu has been away from Amritsar for the last six to seven months and has not returned even after his commitments with TV channels for the Champions Trophy ended.
A couple of months back he had expressed his unhappiness over the manner in which he was ignored over issues related to the development of Amritsar. He claimed that some projects he had initiated were jeopardised. In the new organisational set-up under Rajnath, Sidhu has been sidelined. However, he has met Rajnath since then but has said nothing about his return to Amritsar.