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Jaitley’s pick Shwait Malik appointed Punjab BJP chief

The 2019 Lok Sabha polls will the first litmus test for Malik and keeping the BJP-Akali Dal ties on even keel will be his key challenge.

punjab Updated: Apr 01, 2018 10:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Shawet Malik,Rajya Sabha MP,Shawet Malik MP
Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik (54) replaces Union minister of state and Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha MP Vijay Sampla as BJP’s new Punjab chief. (HT File )

With just a year to go for the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday appointed Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik, 54, as its new Punjab chief replacing Union minister of state and Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha MP Vijay Sampla.

The appointment was made by BJP national president Amit Shah, a party communiqué from BJP general secretary Arun Singh said. Mailk was elected to Rajya Sabha from Punjab in 2016. He belongs to Amritsar, a BJP stronghold, and has also served as mayor of the holy city from 2007-2012.

WHAT WORKED FOR HIM
  • Non-controversial image and neutral leader in the faction-ridden Punjab BJP
  • Urban face of the party
  • Close to RSS ranks and finance minister Arun Jaitley
  • Good orator and active parliamentarian

The 2019 Lok Sabha polls will the first litmus test for Malik and keeping the BJP-Akali Dal ties on even keel will be his key challenge.

Considered close to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ranks, finance minister Arun Jaitley is said to have played a key role in Malik’s ascent to the post.

In a surprise move in March 2016, Malik was picked by the BJP high command for the Rajya Sabha, the seat that fell vacant after party’s senior face Avinash Rai Khanna’s term expired.

Other state leaders in the race for the post were party’s national secretary Tarun Chugh and former minister Manoranjan Kalia, who was backed by Sampla and Khanna.

First Published: Mar 31, 2018 16:36 IST