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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

After Jaitley rout, Kalia aides pitch for his induction in cabinet

Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, May 18, 2014
First Published: 21:25 IST(18/5/2014) | Last Updated: 23:05 IST(18/5/2014)

After local bodies minister Anil Joshi submitted his resignation on Friday after Jaitley's defeat (his resign is yet to be accepted by the chief minister), Jalandhar Central MLA and former minister Manoranjan Kalia has emerged as a probable replacement, besides similar claims by former state president and Pathankot MLA Ashwani Sharma.

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Kalia, known as an aggressive minister during the previous SAD-BJP tenure from 2007-2012, was denied the cabinet berth after the coalition won second tenure in 2012 due to factionalism in the party.

Sensing the right time, Kalia's supporters have initiated a campaign on social networking site Facebook projecting the former minister as the real voice of the urban people in the state.

Kalia's staunch loyalist and party media coordinator Bhagat Manohar Lal shared one such post on his Facebook account which said, "Kalia is brave and can save us from taxes and is the voice of urban people."

It was only because of his aggression that Kalia's relations with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal had turned sour during the previous tenure of the SAD-BJP government.

It is a general feeling among the party cadre that their debacle on seats contested from Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar, should be taken as a wake-up call as the BJP lost with a margin of more than 10,000 votes in nine assembly segments from these cities. 

However, Kalia's detractors in the BJP are opposing his claims on various grounds, including the defeat of SAD candidate from Jalandhar in his constituency, where the party trailed by 10, 250 votes.

Another issue his opponents are raking up against him is cropping up of the name of his close aide Jimmy Kalia in the drug peddlers' list issued by former DGP Shashi Kant last month in Jalandhar. 

However, Kalia has demanded a high-level probe on this issue "to bring out the truth".

BJP state president Kamal Sharma said, "I will prefer not to comment on the matter as it is the prerogative of the party national president to take call in such issues. Whenever we take decision on this, we will inform the media."?

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