Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Posted at: Apr 25, 2019, 7:03 AM; last updated: Apr 25, 2019, 10:11 AM (IST)

Parachute trouble for BJP in Punjab

Divided house as outsiders in fray

Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24

The fact that the BJP has chosen to field two candidates from outside for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections has only reinforced the fact that the central command has no faith in the Punjab leadership. The third candidate, too, had served as a civil servant before joining the state politics.

The party has three seats — Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar — out of 13 in its alliance with SAD.

The state unit continues to be a divided house. Party presidents continue to work with their trusted team members. In fact, the party has failed to have a consensual leader ever since Balram Das Tandon finished his tenure as a Cabinet minister in 2002. His tenure as the state president had a strong voice of the party in state politics, which has sadly gone missing.

Current state president Shwait Malik faces opposition in his own constituency at hands of former Minister for Local Government Anil Joshi. Instances of difference of opinion have been publically exhibited on several occasions. Despite his claims about a unified house, senior party leaders confided that they were never taken into confidence for party programmes.

Malik’s predecessor Vijay Sampla, who was also a Union minister, lost his ticket to party politics. Shown to have less than 35 per cent support in an in-house survey, Sampla lost favour with the party bosses, specifically Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who is said to be exercising the strongest control over Punjab politics. In 2014, Jaitley had lost to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh by over one lakh votes. 

Senior leaders, not wishing to be quoted, have expressed their displeasure with the party decision to choose outsiders as candidates at the cost of senior party leaders.

In Gurdaspur, for instance, the party chose to ignore former state president Ashwani Sharma, a two-time former minister, Master Mohan Lal and three-time MLA and former Deputy Speaker Dinesh Singh Babbu.

In Amritsar, the party chose to ignore Rajinder Chinna, who had been campaigning for the past few weeks. He had contested the last byelection to the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.


  • Barring actor Sunny Deol in Gurdaspur, it is not going to be an easy ride for the other two BJP candidates
  • Hardeep Puri is seen to have no local connect in Amritsar. Born in Delhi, Puri spent a major chunk of his life abroad on assignments as an IFS officer
  • Som Parkash faces a tough challenge in Hoshiarpur. The ex-IAS officer is an MLA from Phagwara


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