Despite two convicted terrorists being let out of Amritsar central jail on parole by the Punjab government, the senior leadership of the state unit of the BJP has refused to react on the development, maintaining a studied silence.
The release of Gurdeep Singh Khera followed by that of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, in quick succession, did not bring in any reaction from the state leaders of BJP, including the president and Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Vijay Sampla. On the day of Bhullar’s relief multiple attempts were made to get his reaction but Sampla studiously avoided the media. In fact, no other senior leader of the party was also willing to make any comment on the issue.
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The immediate predecessor of Sampla and senior leader in his own right, Kamal Sharma, also chose not to speak and instead said that the present president is the right person to make any statement. The national secretary from the state, Tarun Chugh, excused himself on the pretext that he was travelling in West Bengal in connection with the assembly elections and therefore, being out of the state, he did not wish to react to the development. “Had I been in the state I would have definitely given a reaction,” he said.
A weak defence of the decision did come forward from the assistant media adviser to the Punjab government, Vineet Joshi, who was ostensibly put forward by the senior leadership to spell out the party stand. The stand articulated by Joshi was that everything had been done as per legal requirements. “There is a law in existence which provides for grant of parole to anyone who fulfills the conditions and that since Bhullar fulfilled those conditions he had been given parole. This is not something in which there was any discretion. He had been denied earlier because of the TADA case against him but since he has been acquitted in that case he has got parole,” said Joshi.
However, political observers say that there has been a dilution of BJP’s strident stand on such issues because of the forthcoming assembly polls and that the party does not want to upset it’s alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). “Since BJP is a partner in the government it cannot turn around and say that it does not agree with certain decisions as the responsibility for such decisions rests with it too. Hence, it is a tricky situation in which silence is the best tactic,” said a veteran BJP leader.
However, at the ground level, the silence of the party leadership and the tacit acquiescence with the moves which suit the SAD more than the BJP has not gone down well. Leaders said the cadre feel that a strong stance must be taken.