The Dalit face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state, union minister Vijay Sampla is all set to storm the bastion of the ruling Badal family as he has been made in-charge of the Bathinda district for municipal corporation elections.
Facing apathy of union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who has held no official meeting with local leaders of the BJP after becoming a minister, the district BJP unit is excited to have a powerful leader as their in-charge for the civic body elections.
With the union minister tag on his shoulders, Sampla is the most influential in-charge in the list released by the party state president Kamal Sharma on Tuesday.
Sampla's appointment is also important as the local BJP unit wants to come out of the shadow of the SAD which is playing a big brother in the MC house. It is also important that BJP had no representative from the Bathinda parliamentary constituency in the state or central governments and the district unit has now been looking forward at Sampla as their voice.
"Sampla is a very powerful leader. We are excited to contest MC elections under his leadership. We hope the BJP will perform best under his guidance," said Naveen Singla, a local BJP leader.
Having lagged behind by 30,000 and 15,000 votes from Bathinda urban and Mansa city assembly constituencies respectively during the Lok Sabha polls, Harsimrat did not bother to hold any official or thanksgiving meeting with local BJP leaders after winning the Bathinda parliamentary seat and becoming a minister at the Centre.
"There was no meeting of Harsimrat with the BJP after parliamentary elections. We never asked for it and will not do so in future," said district unit president Parminder Goyal.
Interestingly, the BJP has always avoided show of strength in Malwa, especially in Bathinda and Muktsar districts, which are a stronghold of Badals. The membership drive programme of the BJP was also kept at a low profile here last month. However, the appointment of Sampla as Bathinda BJP in-charge for MC elections has suddenly changed the equations.
Party sources said that Doaba leader Sampla has been introduced to Malwa through the MC elections and the party has been also eying the Dalit votes in the region.
Traditionally, the Congress vote bank of Dalits was lured by the SAD during 2012 assembly elections and 2014 Lok Sabha elections through its various welfare schemes for the community. Now the BJP wants to use Sampla's influence to get the attention of the Dalits in Malwa.