In a decision that may become controversial for the BJP in time to come, the saffron party has thrown its weight behind its ally, Akali Dal, in Punjab on the issue of drugs.
The BJP, which is in alliance with the Akali in Punjab government, has rubbished the allegations of drugs menace in the northern state saying that the issue had been exaggerated.
The party’s media adviser in the state, Vineet Joshi, was quoted by the Indian Express, “Our stand is still the same and our (Punjab)president Vijay Sampla has made several statements regarding the issue. However we are also very certain that the problem of drugs in Punjab should not be exaggerated as it exists in many other parts of the country too and is more or less on the same level.”
BJP’s national secretary, Tarun Chugh, too echoed Joshi’s sentiments.
“If the state government is taking adequate action against the drug smugglers then we have to stand by them. There is no question of making any course correction or changing how we view the problem,” Chugh was quoted by the paper.
The BJP finds itself placed in an awful predicament on the issue of drugs. The party has up until now has carefully avoided being explicitly drawn into the debate on drugs, whose menace has assumed an alarming proportion in the state, particularly under the BJP-Akali government.
Not too long ago, the issue of drugs had become a dominating theme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat.’ The prime minister had said how a mother from Punjab had shared her pain with him.
Modi was taunted by his political rivals, who asked him to sever ties with Akali if he felt so strongly on the impact of drugs on wider population in the state.
Both Congress and Aam Aadmi Party appear determined to corner Akali and BJP on the growing danger of drugs on the population at large in the run up to the election.