Ashwani Sharma was on Friday unanimously elected as president of BJP’s Punjab unit. The 55 year old former MLA replaces Shwait Malik for a second term at the helm of the party’s state unit.
As Punjab BJP’s election in-charge Anil Sarin announced Sharma’s election during a function at the Desh Bhagat Yadgar Hall here, several party leaders demanded that the party goes solo in 2022 Vidhan Sabha elections in Punjab. Sharma too joined the chorus but in an in indirect way.
Out of the total 117 assembly seats in Punjab, BJP contests on 23 in alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Former BJP Minister Master Mohan Lal was one of the first who urged Sharma to make it a target to contest the 2022 polls alone and not in an alliance. “When we can make governments in Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh, where we had started as a small partner, then why are we dependent on the Akalis in Punjab,” he asked, adding that if Sharma was determined then it could happen in 2022.
Madan Mohan Mittal, another former minister, favoured the alliance but demanded a bigger share of seats for the BJP. “We are the big brother now and Akali Dal the younger one. BJP must contest 59 seats in the coming assembly elections,” Mittal said, adding that Sharma has to look after entire state “not just to focus on the 23 seats,” which the BJP has been contesting since long in alliance with the SAD.
“We have been asking for more seats since long but party President Amit Shah had asked us to first strengthen the party in the state,” he added.
Former minister Manoranjan Kalia also stressed on increasing party’s own base in state.
Former state president Brij Lal Rinwa said that “now we should leave that supporting stick of Akalis” and must walk alone.
Sharma, while addressing the workers, said that the party should build a man-to-man contact. He said he will spend two to three days in every Assembly constituency to meet the workers at the ground level.
Without taking any names, Sharma said that if the dreams of the senior leaders are to be met then all ‘colours’ are needed to be added in the party. He also urged the party workers “to get prepared for the big task” ahead.
Sharma, having an RSS background, has already served as the Punjab BJP chief from 2010 to 2013. He had also served as general secretary of the state BJP.
Sharma had won the 2012 assembly polls from Pathankot and he was instrumental in getting district status to his constituency. He lost the 2017 assembly polls to Congress candidate Amit Vij.
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