Chandigarh: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday appointed former Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, 69, as its state chief. He succeeds Pathankot MLA Ashwani Sharma who was serving his second term in a row as state chief.
A former Lok Sabha MP from Gurdaspur and three-time legislator from Abohar assembly seat, Jakhar who was one of the state’s senior most and one of the tallest Hindu leaders of Congress in Punjab, had joined BJP in May, 2022.
Jakhar's political career
Jakhar, who is the younger son of former longest serving Lok Sabha speaker and former Madhya Pradesh governor late Balram Jakhar, was also Punjab Congress chief for four years before he was replaced by Navjot Singh Sidhu in 2022. However, he had headed Congress’ campaign committee in the 2022 assembly polls. A Hindu Jat, Jakhar was also the leader of opposition in the state assembly from 2012 till 2016.
The Jakhar family has been associated with Congress for about five decades as his father Balram Jakhar, who passed away in 2016, was a senior parliamentarian. His nephew Sandeep Jakhar is presently Congress MLA from Abohar seat in Fazilka district, a seat he represented thrice in the past.
Jakhar’s anguish against the party’s Central leadership had risen after he was replaced as state chief by Sidhu in July 2021, and later when he was ignored for the chief minister’s post in September that year when the then CM Capt Amarinder Singh was forced to step down from the chair and he was ignored for the CM’s seat.
Jakhar: I was ignored for being Hindu
Jakhar had claimed that 42 out of the total 80 MLAs wanted him to be the CM but he was ignored for being a Hindu. Congress sent him a show-cause notice for his remarks but he took affront and did not respond to it.
Significantly, Jakhar was inducted into saffron party’s national executive in less than seven months’ time after he left Congress. He was also the only one from Punjab to be taken into the five-member committee of the BJP to conduct an inquiry into the violence during its Nabanna march in Kolkata last year before he was inducted into BJP’s national executive.