INFIGHTING IN the Punjab unit of BJP and the resultant tussle between two main groups in the state unit has led to an impasse over the names of six candidates for the Assembly polls. While the party has named 17 candidates for the election, the inability of the party’s central and state leaders to arrive at a consensus over the remaining six names has brought to the fore fissures that have existed for years now.
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The incumbent state president, Vijay Sampla, has been assiduously building his own team ever since he took charge last year. However, Sampla has been facing resistance from several quarters and this has kept dissent simmering for the past several months. Matters have now come to a head with Sampla managing to get the names of several candidates backed by him cleared by the central leadership, but he is facing stiff opposition over the plans to drop some senior sitting MLAs.
A major bone of contention has been the issue regarding the replacement of the four sitting ministers, including Madan Mohan Mittal and Chunni lal Bhagat, who are above 75 years and in normal course, would not be eligible to contest as per party rules. However, even as both Mittal and Bhagat have suggested that their respective sons be given tickets, Mittal is learnt to have strenuously demanded that he should be nominated despite his age,” said a BJP leader. The names of the sons of the two ministers have also been objected to and this has led to a stand-off between the supporters of Sampla and those of Bhagat in Jalandhar recently during the Sankalp Yatra.
The fate of two other sitting ministers, Anil Joshi and Surjit Kumar Jyani, also hangs in balance as there has been dissent over the suggestion that these two be dropped to cut off the anti-incumbency factor in the polls. “A middle way out of this stand-off will be found soon as the party cannot waste anymore time with the last date of filing nominations fast approaching,” said a senior leader.
Meanwhile, trouble has been brewing over naming Sampla loyalist Harjit Singh Grewal as the candidate on Thursday. Grewal, who heads the state khadi board, has been given ticket from Rajpura but local BJP supporters have revolted, demanding that the ticket be given to Tarun Khurana, son of former MLA Raj Khurana who died recently.