Punjab BJP president poll postponed at eleventh hour

  • Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 09, 2016 23:45 IST
The election to the president of the BJP Punjab unit scheduled for January 10 was postponed at the eleventh hour on Saturday evening.

The election to the president of the BJP Punjab unit scheduled for January 10 was postponed at the eleventh hour on Saturday evening.

Though no new date for the election was announced, it is learnt that the election would now take place after January 16, after the election to the national party president is over.

Amit Shah, who had become the interim president after the parliamentary polls of 2014, is likely to remain the national party president.

Till Saturday morning, party leader Ashwini Sharma was the frontrunner to become the state party president and party men even congratulated him, but by the evening the dynamics changed with the postponement of the polls. A day before, it was expected that incumbent Kamal Sharma would get another term. Confusion prevailed as the scenario was changing with each passing day, said a BJP leader.

Insiders say the party is looking for a new face in Punjab and planning to bring in Avinash Rai Khanna, who currently is the national election in-charge of the party. After the process to elect the national president is over, Khanna is likely to give up the responsibility and become an applicant for the state president.

Sources in the party say a new face is being brought in to lead the party when its state unit and the state government, in which the saffron party is a coalition partner with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), are in a crisis.

With the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also emerging in the state and gearing up for the elections to the state assembly next year, the saffron party doesn’t want to take any chances. As it has decided not to break its alliance with the SAD, sources said the party high command wanted to bring in a strong president and Khanna is seen as good at handling crucial issues.

Speaking to HT, Khanna said, “The election stands postponed and a final schedule will be announced in a day or two. It was postponed as the party high command wanted it so.”

He refused to comment on him becoming the candidate for the state president. Khanna is a Rajya Sabha member from Hoshiarpur and his term will end in April. Earlier also, he was the state president in 2003 and under his command the party had won the highest ever 19 of the 23 seats in the 2007 assembly polls.

Rajinder Bhandari, election in-charge in Punjab, refused to comment on Khanna’s candidature, saying the chances of a new face being brought in were bright.

Chandigarh president poll also postponed

The election to the Chandigarh unit of the BJP was also postponed and will take place along with that of Punjab. Sanjay Tandon, who has been the party in-charge for two terms in the union territory, as per the party regulations had to give up the claim, and a new face will be brought in.

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