The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to get a clear line of action from its national leadership vis-à-vis its relationship with its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab as national president Amit Shah starts his two-day visit to the state beginning Saturday (May 2) from Amritsar.
In recent times, the BJP has been unable to take a commanding position in the prevalent political situation in the state with the SAD continuing to be assertive on key issues.
Shah's visit, his first to Punjab after taking charge as the BJP president, is going to be a quiet affair. He would only meet the party workers and will chair the core committee meeting of the state unit. He will also not interact with the media. This is in sharp contrast to the hype created for his aborted January trip to rally against drugs, which ultimately did not happen.
However, party leaders hope that Shah shares the party high command's views and directions on the road ahead for SAD-BJP
relationship, especially as the SAD now has the simple majority of 59 legislators in the 117-member state assembly, after winning the Dhuri bypoll.
The party cadre and the top-rung leadership also expect Shah to let it be known that how does the party attempt to convert its membership of 21 lakh (as per party claims) in the state into a 'solid' vote bank ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in the state.
"The state leadership remains in the dark on how to proceed in the current political scenario in the state. The party has no clear strategy as yet. Can we aggressively counter the SAD or shall we play second fiddle to the alliance keeping in mind the compulsion of BJP to take keep SAD with them at the Centre as the party represents the Sikh minority," said a senior party leader.
When contacted, state BJP chief Kamal Sharma admitted that certain issues relating to the present political scenario of Punjab would definitely come up for discussion with the national party chief.
"There has been more than six-fold increase in the membership of the Punjab BJP to more than 21 lakh now. We have also established a strong base among the Sikh community and the rural areas, which had never been the BJP stronghold. The morale of the workers is very high and so are their expectations from the national party chief's visit. All political issues are likely to come up in the core committee meet," said Sharma.
Sources in the party added that the BJP will Shah on the tussle between local bodies minister Anil Joshi and the SAD unit and the alleged attack on Joshi's brother Raja Joshi during the recent local bodies polls. The partisan role of the police and reshuffle of cabinet ministers from the BJP quota is also set to come up for discussion in the core committee meeting.
Even the SAD and the Congress are looking closely at Shah's visit expecting to gain clear signals on the party strategy for 2017 elections.
Shah's visit, his first to Punjab after taking charge as the BJP president, is going to be a quiet affair.
Party leaders hope that Shah shares the party high command's views on the road ahead for SAD-BJP relationship, especially as the SAD now has the simple majority state assembly, after winning the Dhuri bypoll
State BJP chief Kamal Sharma admitted that certain issues relating to the present political scenario of Punjab would definitely come up for discussion with the national party chief.
BJP which now claims to have a membership of 21 lakh is also expected to strategise on ways to convert this support into votes.