A delegation of Punjab BJP leaders, led by state president Ashwani Sharma, met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in Delhi on Sunday.
The BJP delegation also included Dinesh Kumar, general secretary (organisation), Union Minister of State and Hoshiarpur MP Som Prakash, state general secretary Jivan Gupta and state general secretary Subash Sharma.
Punjab BJP sources said that the state party leadership had sought time from the Union Home Minister and Agriculture Minister respectively in order to apprise them of the ground situation in Punjab with regard to the farmer agitation which is taking place at the Delhi borders.
In a reflection of the infighting which is rife in the Punjab unit of BJP ,the delegation, which met Shah and Tomar, did not include Surjit Kumar Jayani , former state minister and chairman of commitee which has been negotiating with farmers’ unions in Punjab.
The delegation also did not include Harjit Singh Grewal, a former vice- president of the state unit and one of the few senior Sikh faces of the party in Punjab. Another senior member of the party conspicuous by his absence in the state delegation was I S Lalpura ,a recently appointed national spokesperson of the party from Punjab.
When contacted, Jayani confirmed to The Indian Express that neither he nor Harjit Singh Grewal were part of the delegation that met Shah and Tomar on Sunday. “It was a party delegation which had gone to meet the Central leadership and to apprise them of the ground situation in the state. Harjit Grewal and I have been busy talking to the farmers and trying to ascertain their point of view,” Jayani said.
Jayani said that there was no infighting in the Punjab unit. However, a few weeks earlier, Jayani had openly criticised central leadership of BJP for not listening to the farmers of Punjab. He had also obliquely hit out at the state BJP leadership at the time saying that only those people who were ‘yesmen’ were being listened to in the party.
After the split with the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP now faces an uphill task of not only insuring its presence in the constituencies represented by Akalis in Punjab but also putting up credible presence leading up to the 2022 Assembly elections.
While the BJP was in alliance with the Akalis, it contested only 23 out of 117 Assembly seats in the state. Now, after the split, the BJP has to contest on all 117 seats many of which are dominated by Akalis and the Congress, and the ongoing farmers’ agitation has not done anything to improve the BJP’s image in the state.
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