THE PUNJAB BJP leadership has started putting pressure on Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, to start filling up vacancies of the BJP quota of presidents of improvement trusts and chairmen of the market committees.
Sources said BJP state chief Vijay Sampla and Sukhbir held a series of meetings recently, two in New Delhi and two in Chandigarh, on several demands that the BJP has as the party motivates its middle rung leadership for the forthcoming polls. A senior BJP leader said the appointment of the Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) was also part of this process as the various appointments have been held in abeyance for a long time.
Sampla and Sukhbir have also reportedly agreed that there should be coordination between the office-bearers of both the parties where issues of mutual concern will be raised and addressed. This has been deemed necessary in order to do away with the ‘distrust’ that has cropped up in some instances between the cadres. Earlier, during massive membership enrollment drive launched by the BJP, the Akali cadres had alleged that their grassroots members were being ‘poached’ and this had led to some friction.
“The two leaders have also agreed that Sukhbir will address meetings of BJP workers in the coming days,” said the leader. Sampla has also impressed upon SAD leadership to ensure that the grievances of the BJP MLAs as well as party cadres are taken up by the district administrations as well as higher ups in the state government on an urgent basis. The latest meeting held on April 28 in Chandigarh was jointly chaired by Sampla and Sukhbir where the grievances of BJP MLAs were taken up.
The discussions over the seat-swapping arrangement between SAD and BJP in a few seats are also likely to take place in the coming days. “However, the issue is yet to be taken up at the level of Sukhbir and Sampla. But there are indications that the matter could be raised subsequently,” the senior BJP leader said.
In recent months there have been strong voices emanating from the BJP district-level workers in Batala that the seat which had been given to SAD should come back to the party. Speaking to The Indian Express, a Batala-based BJP leader said,”Our party has a strong base in Batala and surrounding areas and we should encash this by getting the seat because SAD has not been able to hold it”. However, state level BJP leaders maintain that the number of seats that may be swapped would be small as there was not much margin on this front.
Notwithstanding the efforts being made by the new BJP president to streamline the party internally as well as put its relationship with its alliance partner on an even keel, the thorny relations on some fronts are yet to be addressed. The open animosity between the senior Akali leadership and BJP Minister Anil Joshi in Tarn Taran is an example wherein in the recently held bypoll for Khadoor Sahib assembly seat, the Tarn Taran unit of BJP boycotted the polls and did not support the SAD candidate. Similarly, the open rebellion of the BJP MLA from Amritsar (East), Navjot Kaur Sidhu, over ties with SAD due to the ‘neglect’ of her constituency is yet another aspect that remains unaddressed.
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