August 18, 2021 8:07:33 am
ON the day when former BJP minister Anil Joshi announced his decision to join Shiromani Akali Dal unconditionally, Punjab BJP stepped up its efforts to keep its flock together amid talk of more leaders planning to quit the party in coming days.
On Tuesday, state BJP chief Ashwani Sharma made an attempt to pacify a group of miffed BJP leaders in Ludhiana who are expected to join SAD along with Joshi in a week’s time.
Sharma visited the house of BJP leader Kamal Chaitely in Ludhiana where few other disgruntled BJP leaders had also come.
While Sharma said that it was a routine visit to Chaitely’s house for a cup of tea, Chaitely did not deny talks of him joining another party.
Chaitely, a working committee member of BJP is likely to join SAD within this week along with many other disgruntled BJP leaders along with former BJP Minister Anil Joshi.
He said, “I was told to review my decision, and I will take some time to think,” adding: “I have spent my life in this party. My father was also in this party, so I duly respect whoever visits me. But I told pradhanji (Ashwani Sharma) that I will take some time to think.”
Refusing to hold back his punches against working of the party unit in Punjab, Chaitely said: “In the past one year, the leadership of Punjab BJP had been very immature, they grossly miscalculated farmers’ protest, and did not hear them properly as they were never connected to them. Had they acted in a responsible manner, farmers would have never crossed Punjab borders.”
Joshi, who hails from Amritsar, was expelled from the party in the first week of July after he had openly attacked BJP leadership for mishandling the farm laws issue. Talking with The Indian Express, he said, “Yes, I have made up my mind to join SAD, date is not fixed as yet. A few other like minded people are also likely to join along with me, but let’s see who all come.”
Interestingly, Joshi had had a bitter-sweet relationship with SAD when SAD-BJP government was in power. When asked about the differences with the party earlier, he said, “I am because of the public and hence, I used to raise public issues, otherwise there was no difference of opinion. In future as well, I will continue to be a man of masses and will raise their issues like before. I stand with farmers and I feel that their issue must be resolved.”
Meanwhile, the other leaders who were in the meeting with Ashwani Sharma were former deputy mayor of Ludhiana municipal corporation R D Sharma, Yuva morcha leader Simar Singh Chandok, former BJP councillor Rajesh Sharma Monty.
R D Sharma had been served show cause notice by the party last month after he had arranged three meetings for Anil Joshi during his Ludhiana visit. Joshi was expelled from the party after that while Sharma was sent notice for anti-party activities. Sharma too had expressed that the party needs to stand for Punjab and Punjabiyat.
Mohit Gupta is yet another state BJP leader from Bathinda who too was served a show cause notice last month for speaking in support of Joshi and farmers. Gupta while speaking with The Indian Express said, “I have made up my mind to switch the party and join SAD. Many leaders from Punjab will be quitting BJP this week. This was bound to happen as the party is not keen to keep their old members who had built this party from decades together.”
Chaitely had unsuccessfully contested elections from Ludhiana West constituency in 2017 and was a distant third candidate. Congress’s Bharat Bhushan Ashu had won the election while AAP’s Ahbab Grewal was at number 2 position. Interestingly, the majority of the BJP leaders who are likely to quit the party had remained part of BJP for more than 2 decades and hence can be termed as old members of the party.
Talking with The Indian Express, Daljeet Singh Cheema, SAD spokesperson said, “I cannot say anything as of now as to who all are joining SAD. The ones who are joining can provide better information on it.”
Meanwhile, former district president of BJP, Ludhiana rejoined the party on Monday. Rajiv Katna was expelled from the party after BJP’s dismal performance in urban local bodies elections in February as he had questioned the BJP leadership and their functioning. Katna joined back in Ludhiana and confirmation was given by Ludhiana BJP in a press statement.
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