The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday appointed Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh Prabhat Jha (58) as incharge of party affairs for Punjab. Jha, editor of the party's magazine, Kamal Sandesh, for the past 15 years, is also a national vice president of the BJP.
It took the BJP more than seven months to appoint Jha as a regular incharge after his predecessor, Ram Shankar Katheria, was made a minister of state in the Narendra Modi cabinet in November last year.
Katheria was appointed the state affairs incharge in March last year. On his lone visit to Punjab, he ruffled feathers by saying that the BJP would go it alone in the 2017 assembly polls, intensifying the war of words between the BJP and its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Before Katheria, who is facing 23 criminal cases, BJP stalwart Shanta Kumar, now Kangra MP, was the state affairs incharge.
Talking to HT on the phone, Jha said: "Let me understand where is Amritsar, where is Chandigarh than only I can talk about the issues in state. I am not aware about the issues of the state," he, hinted of visiting the state very soon.
Jha, as party insiders say is a very seasoned leader who has been especially picked up to deal with the state affairs especially when BJP's relations with coalition partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) are strained and the saffron party is planning to contest 2017 assembly polls in the state without the support of Akali party.
A native of Bihar, Jha grew up in Madhya Pradesh and remained the state BJP president. This is his second consecutive term as a Rajya Sabha MP after being elected in April 2008. He is among the 10 Rajya Sabha MPs named for a joint parliamentary committee on the land acquisition bill.