State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Sunil Jakhar on Sunday announced his new team of office-bearers, giving preference to leaders who originally belong to the saffron fold.
Even as Jakhar has tried to strike a balance between home-grown leaders and those who recently joined the party from the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on papers, the new BJP team is dominated by home-grown leaders coming from Hindu-dominated urban areas.
Out of the 67 office-bearers named on Sunday, only 22 are those who have come from other parties.
Among the 12 vice-presidents, four are former Congressmen — former MLA Arvind Khanna, former minister Balbir Sidhu, former MLA Fatehjung Bajwa and former minister Gurpreet Kangar while one is a former SAD leader, Jagdeep Singh Nakai. Barring Khanna, all are prominent Jat Sikh faces of the party.
The seven remaining posts of vice-presidents have gone to home-grown leaders. They are Dr Subhash Sharma, Rajesh Bagha, KD Bhandari, Mona Jaiswal, Dr Surjit Kumar Jyani, Bikramjit Cheema and Jasmine Sandhawalia.
In the previous team announced by former state party chief Ashwani Sharma, among the 11 vice-presidents named by the party, six were those who had recently joined the party.
On the post of the general secretary, which is considered to be the most important after the president, five appointments have been made: Rakesh Rathore, Dyal Singh Sodhi, Anil Sareen, former IAS Jagmohan Raju and Parminder Singh Brar.
Among the new appointees as general secretary, four are those who originally belong to the BJP whereas Brar is former Youth Akali Dal leader who has worked as officer on special duty (OSD) to deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal.
Similarly, among 12 secretaries appointed by Jakhar, nine belong to home-grown cadre, including Dr Shivraj Chaudhary, Sanjeev Khanna, Renu Kashyap, Renu Thapar, Bhanu Partap Singh, Meenu Sethi, Durgesh Sharma, Vandna Sangwan and Rakesh Sharma. Former Moga MLA Dr Harjot Kamal, former National Student Union of India (NSUI) state president Daman Thind Bajwa and former Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief and Akali patriarch late Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s grandson, Karanveer Singh Tohra are the other secretaries appointed in the new team. Karanveer was the youth wing chief of the party in the previous team.
Amarinder’s daughter is women wing chief
Jai Inder Kaur, daughter of former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has been appointed the chief of the Mahila Morcha (women wing) of the party. She was holding the post of vice-president in the previous team. The party has also appointed former SAD MLA, Amarpal Singh Bonny Ajnala who has recently joined the BJP as the Other Backward Class (OBC) wing chief whereas Darshan Singh Nainewal has been appointed as Kisan Wing president. Former Punjab IAS, Sucha Ram Ladhar has been retained as Scheduled Caste (SC) Morcha president whereas Thomas Masih has also been retained as party’s Minority Cell chief.
Other former senior Congress leaders, including Captain Amarinder Singh, Manpreet Badal, Raj Kumar Verka and Kewal Singh Dhillon and former SAD leaders Avinash Chandar and former deputy speaker Lok Sabha Charanjit Atwal, have been adjusted in the 21-member core group of the party.
Former Punjab DGPs SS Virk and PS Gill also figure in this core group which is generally considered the decision-making unit of the party.
Other members of the core group are Jakhar, Vijay Sampla, Ashwani Sharma, Avinash Rai Khanna, Jeevan Gupta, Harjit Grewal, Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Tikshan Sood, Amarjot Kaur Ramoowalia, Mukerian MLA Jangi Lal Mahajan, former deputy speaker Dinesh Babbu, Manoranjan Kalia and Union Minister Som Parkash.
The party has not declared the youth wing chief.
The only former minister of the Congress who has not figured in the new team is Sundar Sham Arora who is facing serious vigilance cases.