The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which before the Delhi elections was seen as a resurgent force in Punjab, faces moral questions afterwards, over why it put off the anti-drug campaign and how its equation with the Akali allies changed.
The state party leadership had invited national BJP president Amit Shah to lead the anti-drug campaign from January 22. It now is silent on its fate, with the party high command embracing the ruling Badals once again. “Things will be clear after the Delhi assembly election results on February 10,” BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh told HT on Sunday here.
After the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, the BJP had started disassociating itself from the partner and cornering it on the issue of drug abuse. It called for the resignation of revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Avinash Chander after Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned them; and opposed the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) even on the issue of property tax. Getting back with the SAD just before the Delhi polls has made the Punjab pitch different entirely.
From getting the Akali support in the Delhi elections to handing chief minister Parkash Singh Badal country’ second highest civilian honour and transferring assistant ED director Niranjan Singh, who had grilled Majithia, these successive high-command moves in the past fortnight have caused the state BJP leadership to lose face.
“Taking moral high ground, the BJP asked for the resignation of Majithia after the ED had interrogated him. By asking him to lead the campaign of the joint candidate at Rajouri Garden in Delhi, it exposed itself in Punjab,” said state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa. A BJP insider also questioned the party high command stand, saying how the state party leadership would look the media and the public in the eye again.
“People aren’t going to believe our claims of zero-tolerance to drugs, as the high command has taken a U-turn on the issue. It is rather a ‘Q’-turn, where nobody knows the position. Even if we go ahead with the anti-drug campaign, people won’t believe we are serious; and if we drop the plan, questions will be raised on our credibility,” said a senior BJP leader. firstname.lastname@example.org