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Former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar joins BJP

Former Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar being welcomed by BJP President J.P. Nadda as he joins the party at the BJP headquarters, in New Delhi, on May 19, 2022.

Former Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar being welcomed by BJP President J.P. Nadda as he joins the party at the BJP headquarters, in New Delhi, on May 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Days after he quit the Congress party, senior leader and former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar joined the BJP on Thursday in New Delhi, in the presence of party president J.P. Nadda.

He said it was not easy to break his relationship with the Congress party with which he had a long association. “It was the issues surrounding national interests that made me quit the party. It was not something personal. My politics has always been about bringing people together, not dividing them. I felt that the party is drifting from its ideology,” said Mr. Jakhar.

In an apparent reference to the recently held Assembly elections in the State, Mr. Jakhar said Punjab had always stood for brotherhood, but of late a degree of ‘casteism’ had sneaked into the Congress party. “In Punjab, you can’t divide people on caste lines. You may remove Sunil, but you can’t silence him,” he said.

At loggerheads with party

In 2021, ahead of the Assembly election when Amarinder Singh was the Chief Minister, the Congress saw a turmoil within its State unit amid a power tussles among senior leaders. Mr. Jakhar was then seen as the frontrunner for the post of Chief Minister. But eventually, Charanjit Singh Channi’s name was announced after removing Amarinder Singh.

Since then, Mr. Jakhar has been upset with the party. In the middle of the Assembly election, Mr. Jakhar, who was then the party’s campaign committee head, announced that he was quitting electoral politics as he was unable to work with a few colleagues. The three-term MLA and a former Lok Sabha MP alleged that the party high command was surrounded by a certain group of sycophants, who were calling the shots and damaging the party’s ethos.

Mr. Jakhar had criticised former Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and described him as a liability for the party, after the Congress lost the Punjab Assembly elections. Accusing Mr. Jakhar of using objectionable language against Mr. Channi and the Scheduled Caste community during a TV interview, some leaders, including former Minister Raj Kumar Verka, had demanded action. The Congress recently announced the removal of Mr. Jakhar from all positions in the party following its disciplinary committee recommendations.

Important role for Jakhar

Mr. Nadda said Mr. Jakhar was an experienced leader and he would play an important role in the BJP.

“In Punjab, the first place of all nationalist forces is the BJP and, therefore, it is important that people with nationalist ideology should join with the BJP. Punjab is a State bordering Pakistan and it is plagued by issues such as drugs, and terrorism... In this backdrop, it is important to strengthen nationalist forces. BJP has become the voice of the Opposition in the State,” he said, welcoming Mr. Jakhar into the party fold.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said, the exodus from the Congress will continue and the party was headed for an imminent doom. “Honest and upright leaders like Sunil cannot breathe in the Congress anymore”, he said.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 12:34:59 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/days-after-quitting-congress-sunil-jakhar-joins-bjpin-presence-of-jp-nadda/article65429717.ece