Two days after the arrest of his former assistant for alleged corruption, the chorus for Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma’s resignation continued to grow on Monday, not just in the Congress and AAP but also from within the BJP and the Akali Dal.
Jaspal Singh ‘Jimmy’ Sandhu, Sharma’s former assistant, was arrested in a bribery and corruption case on Saturday. Sandhu is alleged to have accepted lakhs of rupees promising to influence the police to drop cases against the accused.
“Kamal Sharma should resign. He never stood for any BJP worker. I needed to make numerous calls to speak to him. Jimmy used to answer his phone and at times it took four attempts to reach him,” said BJP Chief Parliamentary Secretary Navjot Kaur Sidhu. She added that it was Sharma “who misled” Arun Jaitley regarding contesting from Amritsar during the Lok Sabha elections. “I raised a number of issues relating to my constituency and requested him to take those up with SAD but he never did. With this case, it is now clear as to why he did not want to confront SAD,” Sidhu said. “Sharma should also come clear on how he went on to become a crorepati from a person who only had a scooter,” she added.
While Sharma has maintained that it was he who “blew the lid” off the scam by revealing it at a press conference even before a case was registered, state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa and the Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur laid the blame squarely at the state BJP president’s door.
“Kamal Sharma should have resigned by now. He was among those who sought the resignation of Akali Minister Bikram Singh Majithia when the inquiry was under way in the drug racket case. Kamal Sharma should practice what he preaches. He should resign now when the inquiry is on in the case involving his former PA,” Bajwa said.
AAP Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur, while demanding a CBI probe into the case, also said Sharma should step down. “SAD and BJP are chips of the same block and this case has proven that beyond any doubt,” Chhotepur said.
Not everyone, however, is gunning for Sharma’s ouster. The BJP national secretary from Punjab Tarun Chugh said there was no reason for Sharma to resign. “He did not shield the accused and when his former PA allegedly committed the wrongdoing, he no longer worked with Sharma,” Chugh said.
Once the blue-eyed boy of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Kamal Sharma was among the Punjab BJP leaders who gradually began asserting themselves after the Modi government came to power.
When Jaitley is understood to have conveyed his displeasure at the BJP playing second fiddle to SAD, following the disastrous poll campaign in Amritsar, the saffron party’s leadership took to aggressive posturing with its alliance partner. Such was the turnaround that Sharma went on to publically demand the resignation of powerful Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia, the brother-in-law of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal and brother of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
With the way events have unfolded in last few days, Sharma finds himself at the receiving. “Kamal Sharma used to seek resignations at the drop of a hat. Going by those standards, he too should resign now,” said SAD chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha. “But, I want to add that it is never a good idea to level baseless allegations against those who are not guilty. Sharma, ironically, had been doing that. Now, he is getting a taste of his own medicine,” said Valtoha.