In an indication of a growing rift between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the state president of BJP, Vijay Sampla today expressed his disappointment to the Chief Minister over a number of issues including the poaching of BJP councilors by SAD in several cities and the deteriorating law and order situation.
A delegation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), comprising its core committee members, today met the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and objected to several issues which were crucial for BJP but had not been addressed by the alliance partner in its political capacity as well as a partner in government. He particularly raised the point that a number of BJP councilors had been co-opted into the SAD on the basis of inducements and even threats in order to ensure that the SAD has the upper hand in those municipal bodies.
Earlier, the issue had resonated in the core committee meeting of the party which was held at 9:30 am prior to meeting Badal. In the meeting BJP state leadership, including ministers, expressed strong resentment over the party councilors being taken into the Akali fold. The leaders opined that this was unethical and against the ‘coalition dharma’ which should be followed in an alliance. It was also pointed out that on earlier occasions too junior leadership of BJP had been approached to join the SAD.
Sampla, who was accompanied by the four BJP cabinet ministers-Surjit Kumar Jyani, Anil Joshi, Chunni Lal Bhagat, Madan Mohan Mittal, also asked Badal to ensure that the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the municipal bodies are appointed as per the sharing formula which had been agreed upon before the elections. He demanded that wherever office bearers from BJP had not been appointed despite the sharing formula, amends should be made as they should be appointed forthwith.
The BJP delegation, which also comprised former presidents Kamal Sharma, Rajinder Bhandari, Brij Lal Rinwa, Manoranjan Kalia, Ashwini Sharma and state general secretary Dinesh Kumar, asked the Chief Minister to ensure that the law and order in the state is re-established in view of the increasing incidents of gang war in the state as well as the attack on religious personalities so that the atmosphere of fear in the state is dispelled.
Sampla also raised the issue of VAT refund to the traders saying that this was a major bone of contention as the demand had been repeatedly raised by the trader community in Punjab, a core voter constituency of the party. The state unit president demanded that the government should take a decision at the earliest to give out refunds which were due to the traders.
Two issues related to the local bodies minister, Anil Joshi were also brought to the Chief Minister’s notice and he was asked to make an immediate intervention. One pertained to the announcement made by the finance minister in the budget session of the assembly, on the intervention of Joshi, that ‘haldi’ will be VAT free while the VAT on ‘dhania’, ‘jeera’ and ‘kali mirch’ will be reduced from 6.5 per cent to 4 per cent. It was pointed out that despite the assurance no notification had been issued in this regard despite the lapse of several months.
The second issue raised by Anil Joshi pertained to the order of Amritsar district administration which prohibits the plying of vehicles near Golden Temple from 7 am to 9 pm. He said the order was having adverse effect on the business of the shopkeepers in the area and demanded that the Chief Minister should direct the district administration to come to an amiable solution to the problem in consultation with the shopkeepers of the area.
The BJP core committee also asked the CM to direct the police to speed up its efforts to trace the national chairperson of the Gau Sewa Board, Krishna Nand Saraswati as soon as possible. He had recently gone missing after his vehicle had been found parked adjoining the Nangal hydel channel.