M A I N   N E W S

BSP lets Venod in, offers Karnal
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
After hectic parleys, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati has agreed to the induction of former Union Minister and Ambala City legislator Venod Sharma into the party.

This is seen as party’s strategy to repeat its Uttar Pradesh experiment of social engineering in Haryana. Sharma, a Brahmin, will be the party’s chief ministerial candidate, while Naresh Saran will continue to be the state party president.

Negotiations started between the BSP and Sharma on March 6 after Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj scuttled Sharma’s entry into the Kuldeep Bishnoi-led Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC). After two days of parleys, the BSP got the Haryana leader on board to provide leadership to the party in the state. Sharma, once considered close to Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, is expected to make a formal announcement about his plans at the “Jan Chetna Mahayagya” rally at Kurukshetra tomorrow.

On contesting the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Sharma told The Tribune that he would consult his supporters and go with whatever emerged as a consensus. Sharma is contemplating contesting the Karnal parliamentary seat. BSP general secretary and Rajya Sabha member Satish Chandra Mishra approached Sharma through an emissary after Swaraj blocked his entry into the HJC. Sharma had been virtually acting as “an additional Chief Minister” in the Hooda government. Mishra spoke to Mayawati around midnight and sought her approval to hold deliberations with Sharma after he expressed his willingness to move to the BSP.

A meeting was arranged between Sharma and other BSP leaders yesterday. It was attended by BSP’s Punjab in charge and Rajya Sabha MP Rajaram and Haryana BSP chief Naresh Saran.

Sharma wanted to be appointed state BSP president and a ticket from Karnal. But the BSP leadership is believed to have told him that the party could not have a non-Dalit as state president. Instead, they offered to give him the Karnal seat nomination as well as project him as the party’s face for chief ministership.

Sources said Sharma talked to Mayawati over the phone and she welcomed him into the party.





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