Will make party relevant in every corner of Punjab ahead of 2022 assembly polls: Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma
Punjab is going to polls in 2022 and my top priority will be to expand the base of my partyUpdated: Jan 21, 2020 23:04 IST
Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma
From a booth-level worker to taking reins as Punjab BJP chief for the second term, Ashwani Sharma, 56, has silently emerged as the tallest leader in state BJP. During his first stint as party president, his claim to fame was BJP’s performance in 2012 assembly polls when it won 12 of 23 seats it contested in alliance with the SAD. Once again, ahead of 2022 assembly polls, the party’s leadership has put their bets on Sharma — a humble and low-profile leader — who, unlike his predecessors, prefers to keep himself away from the media glare. Ravinder Vasudeva talks to Sharma on issues concerning the party and his plan to make it stronger. Excerpts:
What will be your priorities in your second tenure as the state party president?
Punjab is going to polls in 2022 and my top priority will be to expand the base of my party; make it relevant at every booth, every corner of the state. I want to make BJP the voice for the people of Punjab because public is fed-up with the policies of the state government. The BJP will reach out to every section of society.
It happened in Haryana; now BJP and SAD couldn’t thrash out seat-sharing in Delhi... Why?
Reasons are different. For Delhi polls, I am not aware what transpired between the top leaders of the alliance partners. As far as our alliance in Punjab is concerned, it is very much intact. The SAD is an integral part of the NDA government at the Centre.
But there are voices within the BJP that favour going it alone in Punjab as well...
It is the right of every party worker or leader to express themselves at party platforms. Every political party wants to expand its base and there is nothing wrong if BJP workers also desire the same in Punjab. Moreover, decisions on seat-sharing are taken by the high-command and I don’t believe in making statements on issues which I have little say in.
What do you have to say on the CAA? Even Akalis want Muslims included...
Name a single country mentioned in the CAA where Muslims are a persecuted minority. We need to understand the issue fully before making unnecessary noises. In 1947, Hindu-Sikhs were 23% in Pakistan and now they are just 3% whereas in India Muslims rose from 9% to 14%. Where have Hindu-Sikhs gone? Nobody is questioning Pakistan that. I can’t comment on SAD’s stand. You can try but I won’t say anything against anyone (laughs).
SAD chief Sukhbir’s authority is being questioned by veteran leaders. How do you see that?
This is their internal matter. As a state BJP chief, I cannot comment on other parties. Only SAD leaders can answer that.
The BJP in Punjab has a history of factionalism. Isn’t it a challenge for you to take everybody along?
The Punjab BJP doesn’t have factions. When you work as a team, difference of opinions is natural. We have a system where decisions are taken together. The BJP workers are disciplined enough to overcome such issues and work unitedly.