Former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar on Thursday formally joined the BJP, days after quitting the grand old party. He was inducted into the saffron party fold in the presence of BJP president JP Nadda in the national capital.
Welcoming the former Congress leader, Nadda said: “I welcome Sunil Jakhar to the BJP. He is an experienced political leader who made a name for himself during his political career. I am confident he will play a big role in strengthening the party in Punjab.”
He said Jakhar had enjoyed a special stature in Punjab that was independent of the Congress party and helped strengthen nationalist forces.
“BJP is emerging as the number one nationalist force in Punjab. Hence, it is necessary for all leaders having nationalist ideology to join the BJP to strengthen the party and for a stronger Punjab,” Nadda said.
Jakhar had quit the Congress on May 14, saying that the party was facing an existential crisis. The Congress had removed Jakhar from all party posts on April 26 accusing him of being involved in activities against the outfit.
On Thursday, Jakhar said he was sidelined in the Congress as he had pointed out that the party cannot divide citizens on the basis of caste, reported NDTV.
Mr Jakhar is a prominent non-Sikh face of Punjab and is respected across party lines. He holds sway over many disgruntled Congress leaders. Mr Jakhar is the BJP’s second big catch after Captain Amarinder Singh allied with BJP. He is likely to help the party in the upcoming assembly polls in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
Sunil Jakhar’s father, Balram Jakhar, was the Lok Sabha speaker from 1980 to 1989. A former governor of Madhya Pradesh as well, Balram Jakhar was an Indira Gandhi loyalist who also served as agriculture minister in the Narasimha Rao government from 1991 to 1996.
Sunil Jakhar was at 48 years of age elected as MLA from Abohar in the Fazilka district for the first time. He was re-elected as MLA in both the 2007 and 2012 Punjab polls. Between 2012 and 2017, he was the leader of the opposition in the state assembly. In 2017, he lost in state polls but was elected as Gurdaspur MP in the Lok Sabha by-poll after the death of Vinod Khanna.
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