Amid speculation that the Bharatiya Janata Party is chalking out a strategy to fight the next assembly polls in Punjab without its traditional ally Shiromani Akali Dal, party’s state unit on Monday organised a show of strength by inducting prominent personalities into its fold in the presence of union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda.
Those who joined the party on the occasion of launch of its membership drive included Sangeeta Nayyar, martyr Sukhdev’s niece and her family members from Ludhiana; Onkar Singh Singh Pahwa, managing director of Avon Cycles; Zora Singh, owner of Desh Bhagat University, and his wife Tejinder Kaur.
Zora Singh was once considered close to the SAD leadership.
Jarnail Singh Bajwa, the owner of real estate company Bajwa Developers, better known for its housing society Sunny Enclave in Mohali; Jagmohan Singh Namdhari, the owner of Ludhiana-based exporter house Oister Group of Companies, too joined the party.
Other industrialists from Ludhiana such as Rakesh Kapur, Kuldeep Singh Dhariwal, BC Nagpal, Vimal Jain and charted accountant JR Gupta were also inducted into the party.
Among those politically active who joined the BJP were Kewal Krishan Chauhan and Shiv Ram Chauhan, brothers from Balachaur in Nawanshar. The two were in the BSP before they joined SAD in the presence of party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal in Chandigarh in September last year.
Kewal Krishan Chauhan had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections on BSP ticket from Anandpur Sahib and got 1.18 lakh votes whereas Shiv Ram contested as BSP candidate from Balachaur for the 2012 Vidhan Sabha and got 22,000 votes.
The two were learnt to have secretly supported Congress candidate Ambika Soni during the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Rosy Bhattal, niece of former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and daughter of former MLA Manjit Singh Bhattal; Mamta Dutt, niece of former Congress MP and Bollywood actor late Sunil Dutt, were also inducted in the party.
Retired DGP-rank official Samar Vijay Singh; former Indian Foreign Services (IFS) officer Rajinder Bhagat, Gurdeep Singh Badwal, a Rai Sikh face from Fazilka, former Delhi ADCP Puran Singh Badwal from Abohar and NRI Laxman Bangar also joined the saffron party. Dr Vijay Mahajan, owner of Tagore Hospital in Jalandhar, also joined the party.
Even as the BJP leaders at the Centre have been downplaying the tussle with SAD in Punjab, the party’s move to induct prominent personalities two years ahead of the assembly elections is being seen as a clear indication that the party is working under a well-planned strategy to expand its base.
Political pundits say the timing of the exercise is also a pressure tactic to exert pressure on SAD to give more seats to the BJP in the upcoming civic body polls.