Sources in BJP said that the state party leadership has been informed and Sharma will on January 16 file the nomination papers for election to the post of the state president. (Representational Image)
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central leadership is learnt to have cleared the name of Ashwani Sharma, a former party’s state unit chief to replace incumbent Shwait Malik in Punjab.
Sources in BJP said that the state party leadership has been informed and Sharma will on January 16 file the nomination papers for election to the post of the state president.
This will be the second stint of Sharma at the helm of affairs of the BJP in Punjab. He had earlier been appointed the state president in 2010 for a term of two years. A former president of the state unit of Bharatiya Yuva Morcha and general secretary of the party, he has also been MLA from Pathankot in the previous Vidhan Sabha.
Malik had also thrown his hat in the ring but the feedback from party cadres and leadership did not favour him.
The central leadership had also discussed the name of party national secretary Tarun Chugh, who is said to be close to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah. However, Chugh is learnt to have requested the party to allow him to function at the central level given that he is involved in conduct of elections in Delhi and party elections in Jammu.
The camp of another former state president, Kamal Sharma, who died in 2019, has extended support to Sharma. Others who were in the fray were former state president Manoranjan Kalia, former mayor Rakesh Rathor and Narinder Parmar, state vice-president who also hails from Pathankot.
Sharma’s appointment comes at a time when the party is looking to bolster its presence in Punjab and increase the number of seats that it contests from in the assembly polls. There is also talk of BJP attempting to go it alone in the polls though that would require huge effort on the ground.
Out of the total 117 assembly seats in Punjab, BJP contests on 23 in alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The party wants to double this tally at least.