Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) on Tuesday said it would contest all the 117 Vidhan Sabha seats in the Punjab Assembly elections next year.

Party Punjab president Jog Raj Sharma said the decision was taken as the BJP state unit had gone astray from the issues for which the people had given it the mandate in the last two assembly polls.

Accompanied by party general secretary Joginder Paul Jaggi and spokesperson Subhash Goria, Sharma said, following the "failure" of SAD-BJP policies and presence of a "very strong drug mafia", the image of the once most prosperous state in the country had been reduced to that inhabited by drug addicts only.

Claiming that it was the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) to first raise the issue of drugs in the state, calling it "new form of terrorism", he said: "Even today we are trying our best to wean away the youth from the prevailing drug culture through the medium of seminars across the state." 

Sharma further flagged concerns regarding extremism raising its head again in Punjab. He, however, added that his party was never against the majority community in the state.

Maintaining that his party always advocated unity among the followers of various religions, he claimed in Jalandhar the party had succeeded in bringing nearly 500-600 Sikh families into its fold.

Emphasising that the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) was against anti-national elements irrespective of their religion or caste, he said, it was a misconception created "deliberately" by "some vested interests" that the party worked for the interests of Hindus only.

Referring to the reports of over Punjabi 20 youths feared drowned in Panama and many of them often falling prey to unscrupulous travel agents, Sharma said the youths were being made to search for greener pastures abroad as both the Congress and SAD-BJP governments had miserably failed to give them jobs and direction.

He maintained that the Shiv Sena founded by Bal Thackeray was the only registered Shiv Sena party in Punjab.