New Delhi: The differences in the Bharatiya Janata Party over its stand on Punjab have surfaced with a national executive member criticizing the party president, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, for distorting the party’s stand and expressing willingness to cooperate with the Government in finding an amicable solution to the problem.

In a letter to the BJP president which was released to the press, the national executive member, Mr. Rajinder Puri, said on Sunday that he was surprised to read reports that the Prime Minister had made his meetings with opposition leaders including Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. L. K. Advani, the basis for evolving a “consensus on the Punjab issue.”

Referring to an informal meeting of the BJP’s national executive a few days before Mr. Vajpayee’s meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Puri said, “I thought that we had agreed there that the BJP would not needlessly get involved in parleys in a dispute largely of the Government’s own making.”

“How is it then that your suggestions on Punjab given to the Prime Minister are being made the basis of the consensus with which the Government intends to confront the Akalis? The Government’s own stand is inexplicable. It has completely somersaulted. It now ignores the Anandpur Sahib Resolutions for which it had reserved such. Strident criticism earlier. It has now re

Leased without preconditions leaders whom it had earlier arrested without visible cause. The Akalis have not changed their stand. The Government has changed its stand. Was the Government wrong earlier or is it wrong now?” Mr. Puri asked.

Mr. Puri took strong objection to the BJP president and the general secretary meeting the Prime Minister and thus helping the Government succeeds in ‘‘dragging the name of the BJP into the question of its arbitrary, unprincipled and adventurist mode of dealing with the Punjab issue.”’


“How could you bring yourself to even discuss the issue with one who had accused the BJP of separatism, of antinational actions and even of being involved in the assassination of Indira Gandhi? The Prime Minister’s remarks were a slur of the worst kind on every worker of the BJP. The BJP’s cooperation with his Government in solving the Punjab problem after this is a humiliation for every worker of the party. Even regarding our own stand on the Punjab problem, how can the party or anyone else even contemplate a solution unless first the Government institutes an inquiry into the terrorism in Punjab as well as the genocide of thousands of innocent citizens in Delhi under the very nose of the Government? It is contemptible that the issue of an inquiry into the Delhi riots should be sought to be made part of a so-called package deal on Punjab by the Government. It would be worse if our own party were to give the impression that condoned the Government’s effort to evade a basic question of law and justice in this manner. If the Akalis are not willing to talk with the Government, should the demand for an inquiry be shelved?”’ Mr. Puri asked Mr. Vajpayee in his letter.

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 19, 1985