New Delhi: Ahead of the Punjab assembly polls next year, a section of Sikh leaders and workers in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are unhappy that there is no representation in the new minority morcha office bearers list, ThePrint has learnt.
Earlier this week, the BJP announced six vice-presidents, three general secretaries, seven secretaries, one treasurer, and a media and social media prabhari (in-charge) each from different states as part of its national unit.
“The list is largely catering to Muslim leaders and workers apart from a few Christians. When it suits the party, we are treated as a minority, and when it doesn’t we become part of the extended Hindu-panth. Many are pointing out that earlier also Sikhs were not part of the committees. If that is the case, what is stopping the party to bring in a change,” said a Sikh BJP leader who didn’t wish to be named.
While the BJP refused to comment on the issue, one of the party functionaries, who was involved in preparing the list, pointed out that the “party considers Sikhs as an extension of Hindus and hence we don’t consider them as a minority”.
“So the question of including them in the minority list doesn’t arise,” the leader said on condition of anonymity.
‘Will try to accommodate Sikh leaders’
Jamal Siddiqui, the minority morcha chief of the BJP, said his unit will try to accommodate Sikh leaders, if there is scope to include them.
“This is only a list of the office bearers. We still have to come up with a list of executive and special invitees. The work is still in process,” he said.
“We have a lot of leaders from the Sikh community in the party as well as the government. But in case any particular name has been left out we will try to accommodate it,” Siddiqui added.
‘Need to send message before Punjab election’
A second BJP functionary pointed out that the lack of representation is one of the reasons why many Sikh leaders who join the party end up quitting it soon.
“Take the example of Delhi itself. So many Sikh leaders from Congress and Aam Aadmi Party had joined the BJP but decided to quit soon. We have elections in Punjab next year, we should be sending out a message to the community and this is certainly not going to help,” the second leader said on condition of anonymity.
“Ahead of the Punjab elections we need to send out a message to the cadre as well as to the public. We are going to contest elections on our own, not with SAD, which was an ally before. We need to enthuse more confidence that BJP thinks about the welfare as well as the representation of the Sikh community,” added the leader.
A third party leader, however, reasoned that many party leaders from the Sikh community had been given important positions in the party.
“When JP Nadda ji formed his team last year, he made former IPS officer Iqbal Singh Lalpura as national spokesperson. Narinder Singh, a Sikh leader of Jammu and Kashmir, was also appointed as the national secretary. So it is not fair to say that BJP doesn’t give representation to the Sikh community,” the leader added.
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