Induction of RS member Navjot Sidhu in the core group has created an unsavoury flutter in the SAD, BJP in Punjab
Chandigarh: Throwing a surprise for not only the Akalis but also for a major section of the BJP cadre, the saffron party has included Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu in its Punjab core group, while the cabinet minister Anil Joshi, being considered as Sidhu’s friend-turned foe, has not found place in the premier group. Sources in the BJP confirmed the changes in the core committee of the party to Daily Post, mentioning that it was not only Joshi but the party has also dropped Tikshan Sud, a former MLA and minister who is at present enjoying the status of Political Advisor to the state Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. In the reshuffle, permanent members now include state unit president and Union minister Vijay Sampla, his predecessor Kamal Sharma, MLA Ashwani Sharma, state minister Madan Mohan Mittal, Rajinder Bhandari, Brij Lal Rinwa, Manoranjan Kalia, national leaders Avinash Rai Khanna and Tarun Chugh and also the party’s legislature party leader Chunni Lal Bhagat. Out of the four BJP cabinet ministers in the state, only two are part of the core committee with Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jyani’s name also doesn’t figure in the list, as learnt.
Further, Rakesh Rathore, Jagtar Saini and former MP Gurcharan Kaur have also been dropped from the committee. Four special invitees, as learnt, are all-India general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal, state affairs in-charge Prabhat Jha, state general secretary (organisation) Dinesh Kumar. Besides, one more national leader is also included but his name is yet to be announced. In all, one may see that by bringing in national leaders and dropping some local leaders, the party president Amit Shah has tried to strengthen the group with multiple implications coming along. Interestingly, Sidhu has got the berth after about two years and that too when he and his wife are staunch critics of the SAD-BJP alliance in the state. Notably, the senior leadership of the BJP has time and again declared that the party would keep its “time-tested” alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal intact but the induction of Sidhu in the core group has created an unsavoury flutter in the two parties in Punjab as even after Sidhu being ‘adjusted’ in the Upper House, he was quite firm in declaring that he won’t campaign in the Punjab assembly elections for the Akali Dal.
Meanwhile, his wife, a Chief Parliamentary Secretary in Badal government, has repeatedly announced that she would contest the Assembly polls but not as the alliance candidate. In that light, Sidhu finding a place in the core group was obvious to leave many in the two parties raise eyebrows over the development. A senior BJP leader from Amritsar informed that the formation of the new committee was done at the level of party chief Amit Shah in which Vijay Sampla too had hardly any say. The state unit, as learnt, has been informed about the national level decision through a letter. While one section of the BJP sees that the inclusion of Navjot Sidhu will send an important message to the alliance partners as well as the party colleagues who were vocal against him and his wife, another section finds it a positive move for the alliance to tackle the prevailing anti-incumbency sentiment, giving credit to his oratorical skills.
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