HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Punjab BJP ministers’ heads on the line

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 02, 2014
First Published: 23:01 IST(2/7/2014) | Last Updated: 23:03 IST(2/7/2014)



The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may drop some of its ministers and chief parliamentary secretaries in Punjab who could not capitalise on the “Modi wave” and get votes for the alliance candidates in their constituencies during the Lok Sabha polls.

The saffron party shares power with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab and four of its leaders are ministers in the Prakash Singh Badal government over there. While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made big gains in the border state, winning four parliamentary seats, the BJP-SAD combine could get only six of the 13. "The party’s central leadership has secured the resignation of all four of its state ministers and will take a call about their fate,” a senior BJP leader told HT.

Labour minister Chunni Lal Bhagat, local bodies minister Anil Joshi, industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal and health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani are the BJP faces in the Punjab cabinet. The fate of at least two hangs in balance.

The SAD candidate trailed by more than 21,000 votes from Jalandhar West, Bhagat’s constituency, while the Congress got a lead of nearly 19,000 votes in Amritsar North, Joshi’s seat. Bhagat (81) is also leader of the BJP state legislature party, while Joshi is its deputy leader.

Both Mittal and Jyani secured for the SAD candidates a lead of nearly 10,000 votes from their constituencies, Anandpur Sahib and Fazilka, respectively. “We are discussing the possible changes that may infuse a new blood in the party. A decision will be taken in a week or so,” the BJP source said.

Pathankot legislator Ashwini Sharma, a Brahmin, and Som Prakash, a Scheduled Caste legislator from Phagwara, are main contenders for the ministerial posts, in case Lal and Joshi are dropped. Former minister Manoranjan Kalia, also a Brahmin, is also lobbying for his return to the cabinet.


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