First-time member of Parliament from Hoshiarpur (reserved) seat Vijay Sampla (53) is set to be included as a minister of state (MoS) during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first cabinet expansion scheduled for Sunday.
The MP, a prominent Dalit leader in Punjab, received a communication in this regard from Modi on Friday.
“The Prime Minister called me up, asking me to be ready to become an MoS. I don’t have words to express my feelings. It’s an honour for Punjab as well as the Dalit community of the state. I assure the people of the state that I would become their voice at the Centre,” Sampla told HT from Delhi.
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.