First-time member of Parliament from Hoshiarpur (reserved) seat Vijay Sampla, 53, on Sunday took oath as minister of state (MoS) in Delhi during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first cabinet expansion.
The MP, a prominent Dalit leader in Punjab, received a communication in this regard from Modi on Friday.
"I assure the people of the state that I will become their voice at the Centre," Sampla told HT from Delhi after swearing in ceremony.
The BJP high command's surprise move is apparently aimed at the 2017 assembly polls in Punjab, with the saffron party keen to play the Dalit card to woo the Scheduled Caste community, which comprises more than 30% of the electorate.
Notably, for the first time, the BJP has appointed Ram Krishan Katheria, a Dalit, as the party's state affairs in-charge.