The Dalit face of BJP in Doaba, MP and minister of state from Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha constituency Vijay Sampla is the perfect example of a quick rise and fall in politics. He had contested first ever Lok Sabha election in 2014 and became MP, even getting a berth in the union council of ministers. In April 2016, he was appointed state BJP chief too.
Sampla’s downfall began after BJP’s defeat due to strong anti-incumbency wave against the SAD-BJP in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections. First he was removed from the post of state party chief in April 2018 and now sitting MLA from Phagwara, Som Parkash, a retired IAS officer, was chosen over him as BJP candidate from Hoshiarpur.
Sampla is the first Dalit BJP MP of Punjab as well as the first BJP Dalit sarpanch of Doaba. An RSS activist, he had also remained the chairman of the state khadi board and vice-chairman of the state forest department. He was denied a ticket in the 2012 state Assembly elections.
Sampla’s proximity to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Hoshiarpur’s Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna paved the way for his securing a ticket for Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Now, his strained relations with the Som Parkash group, which belongs to Kamal Sharma in the state and the Arun Jaitley group at the Centre, led to his downfall, said a senior leader of the party, who added Som Parkash’s proximity with a big educational institute, which has close contacts in Delhi political circles, is being seen as another reason why Som Parkash was preferred.
Som Parkash’s supporters said they took revenge from Sampla, who was preferred over Som Parkash in 2014 for Hoshiarpur. The latter had contested from Hoshiarpur in 2009 too and lost to Congress candidate by just 366 votes.
After his being dropped as party candidate from Hoshiarpur, Sampla is being seen as a ground-level worker who managed to rid BJP of the “upper class” tag to a large extent, which was very important for the party particularly in the Doaba region. At the same time they cited several reasons behind his being dropped.
“Vijay Sampla has connected the Ravidassia Smaja with BJP in Doaba,” said Sanjeev Talwar, BJP leader and former chairman of the Youth Development Board Punjab, adding that he was the one who even managed Prime Narendra Modi’s visit to Benaras Govardhan Peeth, the birthplace of Guru Ravidass, where Modi met Sant Niranjan Dass, the head of Dera Sach Khand Balan in Jalandhar.
He had brought several projects to Hoshiarpur and Doaba including a daily train from Hoshiarpur to Delhi, Jaijon, last village of Punjab, to Amritsar train, Bombay Stock Exchange professional course to DAV college Hoshiarpur, Adampur Domestic Airport, several road projects, Aao Khelen Multipurpose project to Hoshiarpur.
BJP SC Morcha member of the National Executive Sheetal Angural posted a message on Facebook that he is resigning from party post, saying that it was because of Sampla that the Ravidasia community, which forms bulk of the Dalit population in Doaba, came into the BJP’s fold and warned that the party would regret its decision of denying the ticket to Sampla very soon.
Meanwhile Som Parkash thanked BJP national president Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley, Shwait Malik and said he will meet Sampla as he is a senior party leader and take him along.
Som Parkash started his campaign Wednesday.