Concerned over its Punjab unit’s subdued response to the ongoing farmers’ stir, the central leadership of the BJP has now directed its state leaders to step out of their homes and travel across Punjab to convey to the people that steps are being taken for farmers’ welfare by the Union government. The state leadership has been asked to submit political feedback from the ground latest by July-end.
These directions were given during a meeting held on Tuesday between Punjab leadership, BJP chief J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi, revealed sources. But hours before this meeting began in Delhi, party leader Surjit Kumar Jyani, was chased away by protesters during a media interaction in Fazilka.
Among those who attended the Delhi meeting were the state BJP president Ashwani Sharma and the state in-charge Dushyant Gautam, besides other Punjab BJP leaders.
A senior BJP leader, privy to the discussion held during the meeting, said: “The central leadership wants state leaders to be more proactive and travel across the state meeting people, especially those involved with farmers’ groups. Yes, there has been picketing of homes of some leaders by the farmers, but almost all of the top leadership has nearly ten gunmen each given for their security. What is the fear in stepping out?”
The central BJP leadership also wants the state unit to step up meetings with party cadre and office bearers so that feedback for the 2022 elections can be taken.
“Now that there is a downward trend in Covid infections, so the state unit must take advantage of it and hold meetings. Mere video conferences are not enough. State president and other office bearers must travel across Punjab to gather feedback and submit the same to the central leadership by July 31,” said the senior leader.
While a section of Punjab BJP leaders, who participated in the meeting maintained that the discussions veered around the Covid vaccination, forthcoming anniversary of the Emergency etc, yet sources said that the matter of Punjab elections in 2022 also came up for discussion as did the issue of infighting in the state unit.
Several senior leaders have been expressing their concern lately over the manner in which the farmers’ agitation has been handled by the central leadership.
Senior party leader and former minister, Anil Joshi, has already issued an ultimatum to the state unit of the party for formulating a policy of talking to the farmers else he would be travelling across the state and meeting with them.
Joshi had also challenged the state leaders to try and visit villages in along with their security personnel and find out the reality of the party’s image in rural areas.
“I do not know what kind of dreams these people have when they talk about fighting elections from all 117 seats. If the present conditions persist, it will be difficult to do anything at all,” Joshi told media persons in Amritsar.
When contacted by The Indian Express about the Delhi meeting, Joshi said he was not aware of what transpired between state BJP leaders and the central leadership.
“I am not aware of what they talked about. I am sure nothing good must have been said to the central leadership about me. All kinds of rumours are being floated that I am joining SAD or I am shifting from Amritsar North Constituency to Tarn Taran. All this is nonsense,” said Joshi.
Jyani faces protest
While the central BJP leadership advised state unit leaders to step out and meet people, former BJP minister Surjit Kumar Jyani faced protests from farmers in Fazilka Tuesday. Jyani, who addressed a press conference in the town and alleged that there was a foreign hand behind the farmers’ agitation against Centre’s farm laws, had to leave under heavy police cover as protestors attempted to rush towards him and throw bangles at him.
Six join Punjab BJP
Meanwhile, six persons from Punjab, referred to by BJP as ‘prominent persons’, joined the party in New Delhi Wednesday in the presence of the state in-charge Dushyant Gautam and state president Ashwani Sharma.
These include former AISSF president Harinder Singh Kahlon, former Vice Chancellor J S Dhillon and advocate Jagmohan Singh and a retired Army officer, Colonel Jaibans Singh. None of them are known to be mass leaders in the state.