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RSS roots for low-key Narinder Parmar as new Punjab BJP chief

January 14, 2020 05:43 AM

race for top post Tarun Chugh, Ashwani Sharma also strong contenders; Manoranjan Kalia another probable

Ashwani Sharma

Manoranjan Kalia

Narinder Parmar

Tarun Chugh
Ravinder Vasudeva

CHANDIGARH : The race for the post of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken an interesting turn with the party’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) throwing its weight behind Narinder Parmar, a little-known face in the state’s political circles.

The new chief will be elected on January 16. With Parmar, who is party’s state vice-president and hails from Pathankot, entering the contest a few days ahead of the election, the ongoing lobbying for the top post by senior leaders has spiced up.

Former state BJP chief Ashwani Sharma has emerged as one of the frontrunners for the job.

Another strong contender is party’s national secretary Tarun Chugh. Though he is keeping his cards close to the chest, sources say he is banking on the party high command to bag the post. For the last few days, he is camping in the national capital where he is campaign in-charge for the Delhi assembly polls.

Former minister Manoranjan Kalia is another probable for the job. Though incumbent state chief Shwait Malik is also seeking second term, his reelection appears unlikely because there is a strong resentment in the unit over his working style. Many feel he could not unite the party and failed to take along the senior leadership in the routine party affairs.

‘A well-behaved grassroots worker’

The RSS sees Parmar as a “well-behaved grassroots worker” with good oratory skills, who can infuse fresh blood in the party’s state unit which is plagued with factionalism.

He is brother of Kirpal Parmar, former Rajya Sabha member from Himachal Pradesh, who is among strong probables for the post of state BJP chief in the neighbouring state. The election for the post in HP is scheduled on January 17.

Ashwani Sharma, it is learnt, has a strong backing of RSS-appointed state organisation secretary Dinesh Sharma. Lately, he managed to get support of some key leaders who were seen as members of the faction led by Kamal Sharma who passed away in November last year.

With the RSS leaving no stone unturned to ensure election of Parmar, senior party leaders are divided if the reigns of the party should be handed over to a less-experienced hand as the 2022 Punjab elections would be contested under the leadership of new state chief.

“The party appointed last four presidents — Ashwani Sharma, Kamal Sharma, Vijay Sampla and Shwait Malik — when they were not really experienced. When there is turmoil in the alliance partner, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), over leadership, it will be interesting to see whether the party does another experiment by appointing a little-known face as state chief or ropes in an experienced hand,” a former minister said.

“The party is gathering feedback from various channels. A formal announcement is likely to be made before January 16,” a top party functionary said.

Shwait Malik and Parmar could not be contacted

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