The ‘who, why, what next’ on new Punjab BJP chief Vijay Sampla
The BJP on Friday appointed new party presidents in five states, including Punjab. Here’s an introduction to the new Punjab BJP chiefpunjab Updated: Apr 09, 2016 22:41 IST
The BJP on Friday appointed new party presidents in five states, including Punjab. Here’s an introduction to the new Punjab BJP chief
Who is he?
Vijay Kumar Sampla, 54, is Union minister of state for Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment; a Ravidassia Dalit, he became MP from Hoshiarpur in the Dalit-dominated Doaba belt of Punjab in 2014; replaces Kamal Sharma who had already completed his term in December. He had started his political career as sarpanch of Sofi village in Jalandhar and worked as a plumber in Saudi Arabia before joining the BJP in 1998.
Why was he chosen?
Caste and region play a dual role in the choice as Dalits are 32% of Punjab’s population — highest, proportion-wise, among all states — and they are more concentrated in Doaba region out of the three regions of Punjab, other two being Malwa and Majha. And Ravidassia community is a big part of Dalits. BJP has also tried to counter AAP strategy to give preference to aam aadmi or common man, through Sampla’s humble background
What are his strengths?
Besides his being a Dalit, what works in his favour is that he was picked by PM Narendra Modi to be in his team of ministers in July 2014, he had also arranged a visit of the PM to Guru Ravidass Temple in Varanasi, a temple constructed and managed by Punjab’s Ravidassia sect, Dera Ballan. Carries a grassroots, non-controversial image, and is acceptable to all in the faction-ridden state BJP divided between groups led by outgoing state chief Kamal Sharma and RS member Avinash Rai Khannal though he is seen as a protégé of Khanna. Considered a master at satisfying egos of big leaders.
What are his weaknesses/challenges?
With SAD-BJP coalition facing a tough poll task, BJP workers are dissatisfied over sharing blame with SAD, and motivating them would be the biggest task. He is seen as media shy and refrains from giving statements on crucial issue; but may have to shed this tag now.