CHANDIGARH: Member of Parliament of Rajya Sabha Shwait Malik was today appointed as the new Punjab BJP President.
The announcement regarding Malik’s appointment was made by BJP National General secretary Arun Singh. He said that his appointment has been made by the National President of BJP Amit Shah and has come in effect immediately. He has replaced Union Minister Vijay Sampla who was a Dalit leader.
Malik’s name was backed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as he considered close to him but is against Kamal Sharma former state unit president and member of national executive of the party.
Malik an engineer has remained the mayor of Amritsar from 2007 to 2012, had got elected to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab in April 2016 as the seat which fell vacant after senior party leader Avinash Rai Khanna’s term expired. He began his political career as Amritsar district general secretary of BJP youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and also remained in its executive body. He was elected the municipal councillor three times from 1997 to 2002, 2002 to 2007 and 2007 to 2012.
However, Malik lost the 2012 Amritsar MC elections from ward number 24, following which he went into oblivion till the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when he resurfaced in support of Jaitley.
Malik’s family is close to RSS, father Rajinder Malik and brother Rajesh Malik were pracharak and sampark pramukh of the local wing of the RSS in Amritsar.
Sources in the party said that he had been nominated as party president and after some months the elections process of electing the state unit party chief will begin, he could be elected then, that all depends. The grape wine in the party circles is that all depends on the performance of the saffron party in the state in the next year’s parliamentary elections. Malik will continue as president of the state unit or not will depend upon his performance in the elections.
The other state leaders in the race for the post were national secretary BJP Tarun Chugh, former Jalandhar Mayor Rakesh Rathore and former cabinet minister Manoranjan Kalia.
For last some time their leaders of the state unit were unhappy with Sampla and his working style and thus there was groupism in the party rank and file. The party high command has reportedly not been happy with the state unit of the party after the dismal performance in last year’s assembly elections as the BJP only got three seats and it did not want that such a performance be repeated in the coming parliamentary elections next year and thus wanted a strong state unit chief, said sources.
National secretary of BJP Tarun Chugh said he would have the advantage of giving more time to Punjab. “In my opinion, Malik is the best choice for the state,” he said. Former Punjab BJP vice-president Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina said Malik’s elevation as state president would strengthen the party to script new history in the ensuing General Election in 2019.
It is learnt that before the 2019 general elections the saffron party will change presidents of many more state units and Punjab was the first unit who’s chief has been changed.