Advocate Vijay Sharma, who was removed as BJP state secretary six months ago for spearheading an agitation seeking a CBI inquiry into the Kathua gangrape-murder case, is now the BJP’s main face for Hiranagar Municipal Committee elections. If the party gets a majority in the municipal committee, Sharma is tipped to be its chairman.
Hiranagar Municipal Committee is one of the half-dozen urban local bodies in the district that are going to polls in the second phase in Jammu and Kashmir on October 10. Sharma is contesting from Ward 11 as a BJP nominee. Also in the fray are Congress’s Sat Pal and Vinod Kumar alias Omi, an independent candidate. Omi is the brother of Bharti Sharma, Jammu provincial joint secretary of National Conference, which is boycotting the local body elections.
When contacted, Sharma told The Indian Express that he was initially reluctant to contest, but had to obey the party directive as he is its sincere and dedicated worker. “They had only removed me from the party post, I continued to be an active member,” he said. Sources close to Sharma said that he agreed to contest when senior party leaders promised him a BJP ticket for Hiranagar Assembly constituency whenever fresh elections are held. The constituency is at present reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates, but it is getting de-reserved, they added.
Earlier this year, Sharma was removed as BJP state secretary for aligning with the accused and their family members in their demand for a CBI inquiry into the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl. Justifying the decision to field Sharma, BJP state general secretary Narinder Singh said, “By spearheading an agitation under the banner of a newly floated Hindu Ekta Manch, he was only supporting the demand of local people who were angry with the harassment caused to them on account of large-scale apprehensions without any justification by a special investigation team of the State’s Crime Branch CBI enquiring into the matter. By demanding a CBI probe, they were not asking for the release of the accused. They only wanted the investigation to be free and fair, as the Crime Branch team included officials who were tainted.”
Sharma was removed from the party post and ministers were made to resign as public perception was being created by some quarters that they were “pro-rapist”, he added.