Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma, who came under the party’s scanner after its former legislator Sukhpal Singh Nannu stood out in public against him, has been a quiet player throughout his political career.
From Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Union minister Arun Jaitley in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), he has cultivated his political contacts cleverly — which has made him the envy of many within the party but helped him come this far in politics without fighting an election. Until 2007, he not even aspired to contest.
His rise in the state BJP started in 2007 with his taking over as its general secretary. That year, he sought to contest his first assembly election — from Ferozepur —but had to leave the field to Nannu, who is from a Sikh family. When not fielded in 2012 as well, he started avoiding Nannu even in public. Accused of working for Nannu’s defeat in 2012, Sharma is blamed more for Jaitley’s failed Amritsar Lok Sabha seat campaign in 2014. “He (Sharma) was confined throughout the campaign, and still Jaitley lost by more than 1 lakh votes,” said a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity.
Rising from Ferozepur as a staunch RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh) activist in the 1980s, Sharma moved to Delhi in 2004 for two years as the Khadi Village Industries Corporation public relations officer and another year as national-capital-based additional personal secretary of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Close to Badal
Relieved as Punjab BJP general secretary in early 2012, Kamal Sharma became political adviser to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal that June. Certain senior state leaders of the party then saw the move to join an Akali CM as unconventional.
Then, in January 2013, he became Punjab BJP president with the blessings of Arun Jaitley. Throughout this tenure, he has not called the mandatory state-executive-body meeting every three months and state-unit meeting every month.
The RSS past
In 1984, Sharma joined the RSS at 14, and graduated to being Punjab secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), student wing of the BJP, and later its national secretary. His claim to the ticket from Ferozepur was always based of the fact that he has held the RSS tag since the dark phase of terrorism in Punjab.