The day after, BJP blows cold
Tribune News Service
The Punjab BJP today changed tack. Yesterday, it had warned Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on maintaining law and order during the statewide bandh. However, the party changed its tough stance today.
Manoranjan Kalia, leader of the BJP in the Punjab assembly and number two in the state cabinet, applauded Badal for maintaining law and order in the state through special security arrangements. Kalia said the peaceful bandh by all Punjabis clearly showed that the peace- loving people of the state would not tolerate the hidden and nefarious activities of anti- Punjab and anti-religion forces to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the state. Kalia urged people to remain calm and vigilant against divisive forces which did not want stability and unity.
There is a background to such a statement and stance of the BJP. Sources said that not happy over the discordant posture adopted by the Punjab BJP, Badal had taken up the matter with the BJP high command, stating that it would be in the interest of both the SAD and the BJP to take a united stand on the sectarian issue.
Badal, the sources said, had told BJP leader Arun Jaitley that a united face of the SAD and the BJP on the issue would send the right message to “those leaders of the Congress” who were keen to keep Punjab on the boil. Badal had, the sources said, told the BJP leader that to defeat the “ designs of certain Congress leaders” it was important for the SAD and the BJP to stand together on sensitive issues concerning the Sikh community.
Badal, the sources said, further conveyed to the BJP high command that the BJP’s wholehearted support to the Sikh community on such a sensitive issue would help further consolidate Hindu-Sikh unity in the state and no one would be able to create a wedge between the two communities in future. But what peeved Badal was the issuance of the press note yesterday by the BJP marked by tough language. The BJP high command was told that such matters should be discussed at in-house meetings and not through the media.
What had made the Punjab BJP take a tough stance was the perceptible nervousness among urban people over developments in the state during the past week. As the BJP’s support base is in urban areas, it was under pressure from its votebank to convey to Badal clearly that he should control the situation. Badal’s problem at present is his failure to articulate in a forceful way what he wanted to say. Though he had been saying for many days that law and order and peace would be maintained at all cost, he had not conveyed it strongly to the people of the state.
The sources said last evening Badal personally rang up all SSPs and other officers concerned to tell them that if any untoward incident occurred at any place, the officer posted there would be taken to task. He had told the district police chiefs that it was a testing time for all of them and they should not be found wanting at this crucial hour. He had given a free hand to deal with the situation to the DGP and other police officers concerned, but had told them clearly that no excuse would be accepted in the case of violence in any part of the state.