Differences among leaders of the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to the fore on Thursday here after chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and Phagwara BJP legislator (MLA) Som Parkash did not invite the newly appointed state BJP chief and Union minister Vijay Sampla for a state-level function to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.
Sampla, who is also local member of Parliament (MP) as Phagwara assembly seat is part of Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha, was in Hoshiarpur on Thursday and confirmed to HT that he was not invited for the function.
The CPS said he had called Sampla personally a few days ago to extend the invitation as no formal invites were sent to anybody.
However, Sampla countered Som Parkash stating that the CPS was telling a lie. “I don’t know who he called up and sent the invite. Nobody from my office received any call from the CPS,” said the state BJP chief.
The tussle between the two leaders goes back to the 2009 parliamentary elections, when Sampla failed to get ticket from Hoshiarpur, while Som Parkash managed it. Som Parkash, however, lost by a narrow margin. During the 2014 general election as well, Som Parkash was tipped a hot favourite, but the party chose Sampla.
Both leaders have locked horns several times in the recent months on the issue of construction of an elevated road on the National Highway-1 from Phagwara. Supporters of both leaders had come to virtual blows after counter-cases were registered against their workers.
Meanwhile, the function organised by the CPS remained a damp squib with very thin attendance. Earlier, the chief minister was scheduled to attend the event, but his programme was cancelled at the last moment.
Education minister Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, forest minister Chunni Lal Bhagat, former minister Bibi Jagir Kaur and Sarwan Singh Phillaur and CPS Pawan Tinu attended the function.
Meanwhile, to enlighten students about the vision of Dr BR Ambedkar, Cheema announced to hold a series of seminars on the life, philosophy and works of Dr Ambedkar in schools, colleges and universities across the state.
He said that 47 books, written Dr BR Ambedkar, will be translated in Punjabi by the state government in coming months.