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BJP’s grandstanding on drug issue now under question

Kamal Sharma, former advisor to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who later took over the reins of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Punjab, has been among the most aggressive leaders demanding resignation of Revenue and Information and Public Relations Minister Bikram Singh Majithia when his name was mentioned by former police cop turned drug lord Jagdish Bhola while being taken to the court in Mohali.He had taken the position that Majithia should resign before his questioning by the Enforcement Directorate investigating the Bhola case. Nothing tangible has come out against Majithia till date. It is time for him to look back and practice what he had been preaching. His associates whom he virtually groomed in politics in his native district of Ferozepur have been arrested in the case which is ultimately linked to drug smuggling. Going by his own high standards that he set, he has no moral right to continue in office. Sharma, who is strongly opposed by one faction within the party in the state, has been ambitious for a second term. Now he himself is in the eye of the storm. Not that his name has been mentioned by those arrested in the scam. It is the issue of political patronage as these were the people handpicked by him. Majithia was in no way linked to Bhola or his associates. Sharma, in a pre-emptive move, took disciplinary action against the leaders when information reached him that they had been named by Lakhwinder Singh Lakha during interrogation.
It may be mentioned that Congress MLA from Ferozepur Parminder Singh had been raising the issue of Sharma’s associates being linked to such activities .
At one stage, the BJP had made drug menace in the state as a major issue with Badal having open spat with a union minister in Hoshiarpur a few weeks back,. Earlier, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had caused a lot of embarrassment to the Akali Dal leaders when he raised this issue from the state during 350th anniversary celebrations of Anandpur Sahib. The BJP has been holding the Akali Dal as the culprit. It is a different matter that so is the perception of the people at large in the state. At the local level, the people openly talk about the Akali leaders providing patronage to the people involved in drug trade.However, the issue now is the double standards of the BJP. Union Food processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is the only Akali leader who reacted to the development yesterday saying whosoever had done wrong must resign immediately. In a way, she was telling Sharma to practice what he had been preaching others.
The BJP, the party that had been taking high moral ground on almost every issue, is getting exposed every day , particularly at the national level. The functional differences between the Akali Dal and the BJP have been too open in Punjab and these differences have been issue based. However, it was Kamal Sharma who had been soft-pedalling differences with the alliance partner. The only issue on which he had become vocal was that of Majithia from which he had to later backtrack. At the time when there was the thinking in the BJP to go solo in the next Assembly election in Punjab, the closeness of Sharma with Badal used to be viewed with suspicion by his detractors. BJP was riding high at the national level on the euphoria of unprecedented victory in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress has got an issue to attack the BJP as both the parties share a section of the same vote bank in the urban areas. The party has demanded CBI probe into this latest case linked to drug smuggling as those involved happened to be the associates of the state BJP chief.
It is to be seen as to how vociferously Congress succeeds in raking up this issue among the people. What is significant in this case that the photographs of Kamal Sharma with these people were distributed by former BJP MLA Sukhpal Singh Nannu from Ferozepur. Kamal Sharma is being exposed by a section from within his own party.
-By Jagtar Singh

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