CHANDIGARH: With the election of new Punjab BJP chief just two days away, the race in the strife-ridden party in the state has intensified.
National secretary Tarun Chug, former local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, former state BJP chief Ashwani Sharma, Narinder Parmar vice-president of the BJP state unit who has the backing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are among some of the names that are making rounds.
The next assembly elections in 2022 will be contested under the leadership of the new state president.
With several key names in the fray for the top job, the party sources have pointed out the new state unit president will be elected on January 17 (Friday) for which intensive lobbying is going on.
Among the front runners is party’s national secretary Tarun Chugh who belongs to Amritsar and is considered to be a close aide of Union Home minister Amit Shah. Chugh is already in the national capital as he is the campaign in-charge of Delhi assembly polls.
Former local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia, the urban face of the party in the state, has the backing of former Union Minister Vijay Sampla and party’s national vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna.
Former state unit president Ashwani Sharma who had earlier served as the state BJP chief between 2009 and 2012 is also one of the key contenders. A former MLA from
Pathankot, Sharma reportedly has the backing of the state organisation secretary Dinesh Kumar besides other leaders.
Another top nominee, Narinder Parmar, a grassroots worker and vice president of the BJP state unit, was earlier the district president of Pathankot for a decade. His brother Kripal Parmar, former Rajya Sabha MP from Himachal is also in the running for the post of BJP president in the hill state.
Former state minister Anil Joshi, Rakesh Rathore, ex-Mayor of Jalandhar and presently general secretary of the state unit and Praveen Bansal, state general secretary and a former senior deputy Mayor of Ludhiana are also doing the rounds.
With saffron party's expansion plans in the offing, it would be interesting to watch who will take up the post of Punjab BJP chief. "The next assembly elections in 2022 will be contested under the leadership of the new president and the strategy of the party will also be clear," a party insider said.