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Discontentment simmers in Punjab BJP over Shwait Malik’s functioning

AMRITSAR: Punjab BJP president Shwait Malik’s style of functioning has made the party leaders and members jittery in the state ahead of the 2019 elections. He has already dissolved BJP’s Amritsar (urban) unit after as many as five seasoned party leaders, including four mandal pradhan (circle heads), resigned from their posts protesting against Malik’s style of functioning.
Sources said on Tuesday that after the Amritsar (urban) unit was dissolved, there were major differences between senior BJP leader of Ludhiana Kamal Chaitley and party’s general secretary Parveen Bansal. They said there was resentment among local BJP leaders over display of photograph of Malik in the Jalandhar office. When Chaitley was asked over his differences with Bansal, he replied, “Whatever you have heard is correct but also ask Bansal.” The latter, however, denied having any misunderstanding with Chaitley.

In the Jalandhar office, majority of BJP leaders wanted to display photograph of former state president Vijay Sampla but were asked to remove his picture and replace it with Malik’s. Jalandhar BJP president Ramesh Sharma denied there was any rift in the district unit. “These three districts are important for the BJP in Punjab but tension is simmering in all three,” said sources.

Bansal said Amritsar was an isolated incident which didn’t indicate that the party would replicate the same in other districts. “But we are reviewing the district units. If some BJP workers can perform better at some other positions, they could be changed to strengthen the party organization,” he maintained.

Party sources said major changes could be seen in as many as 15 of the 33 district units of Punjab BJP after party’s ongoing fund-raising scheme ‘Aajiwan Sahyog Nidhi’ was launched, under which Rs 1,200 was being collected from every active member. “So far, the party has collected around Rs 1 crore in Punjab, of which it purchased two high-end Innovas, one each for the president and organising secretary,” said the sources.
Former mandal pradhan of the BJP Pardeep Sareen of Amritsar said, “Party funds are being misused. Malik already has a vehicle as a Rajya Sabha member.” He said fearing revolt, Malik could dissolve a few other district units also. Sareen is among BJP leaders who had resigned in protest against party president’s ‘objectionable’ working style.
A prominent BJP leader from Malwa, who didn’t want to give his name, alleged that Malik had been focusing more on Amritsar, from where he might contest the assembly elections in 2022. He said it was the reason that he had appointed two secretaries, co-treasurers, media co-conveners, spokespersons and a social media in-charge from Amritsar besides Mahila Morcha chief was also from Amritsar. He further alleged that party president’s focus appears to be 2022 assembly elections and not the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, despite several attempts, Malik couldn’t be contacted for comments. Moreover, party’s Punjab media in-charge Major R S Gill (retired) refused to give comments.

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