Balramji Dass Tandon (86), now appointed governor of Chhattisgarh, is a contemporary of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) top leaders such as LK Advani, started as RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) pracharak (promoter) before Partition and started building cadres for the Bharatiya Jana Sangh when it was formed in the early 1950s.
He became a municipal councillor of Amritsar in 1953 and a legislator in 1957. He was reelected to the assembly in 1962, 1967, 1969, 1977, and 1997. He joined the cabinet of Justice Gurnam Singh in 1969, and when Parkash Singh Badal became chief minister in 1977, he came back as minister. On the night of the proclamation of Emergency in 1975, Tandon was arrested and kept behind bars until the order was lifted in 1977.
The Akalis and the BJP fought first assembly elections as allies in 1997 when Tandon was state BJP president and the state unit was called “Tandon party”. He also became head of the state BJP legislature party.
A member of the BJP national council and national executive, he is one the senior most leaders of the party in this part of the country. Considered close to Punjab CM Badal, a fortnight ago he had come out with a report blaming “dynastic politics” for the sub-par performance of the Akali-BJP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections in the state.
He also pointed out many other shortcomings in the coalition’s functioning. It seems that at the time when he was writing his report, the party had zeroed in on him already to give him the coveted post.
Tandon’s son, Sanjay, president of the Chandigarh BJP unit for the second consecutive term, was also in running for the parliamentary contest ticket from here until the party gave it to Kirron Kher.