After the induction of Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now looking at a ‘reconnect’ by trying to reach out to prominent Sikh faces in the state ahead of Assembly elections early next year.
On Friday, some more prominent Sikhs joined the party fold, including former Director General of Police Sarbdeep Singh Virk, former chairman of Punjab Cooperative Bank Avtar Singh Zira, industrialist Harcharan Singh Ranauta and former SAD leader Sarabjit Singh Makkar.
The steady move by the BJP to reclaim its connect with the Sikh community could become a cause for worry not just for the Congress but for former ally Shiromani Akali Dal as well. This comes amid former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s official announcement that he would contest the elections in alliance with the BJP after launching his Lok Insaaf Congress. The BJP is also confident that though the farmers are yet to call off the agitation despite repeal of the farm laws, they will eventually return home.
In the recent past, the BJP central leadership has taken several steps keeping the Sikh community in mind, be it the reopening of the Kartarpur Corridor or the repealing of the farm laws. With Sirsa and Captain by its side, the BJP is hoping to win back the agitated Sikh community and the farmers.
The BJP in Punjab has primarily played second fiddle to the Shiromani Akali Dal in the one decade that the alliance was in power. This is the first time that the party is trying to increase its base in the state.
“The induction of Sirsa is just the beginning. Our state and central party leadership are in touch with a lot of other prominent citizens across the state, including respectable people from the entertainment industry,” said a senior Punjab BJP leader. The leader said that apart from the advantage of the farm laws being repealed, the BJP has the advantage of Captain Amarinder Singh by its side, who is a respectable person even among Hindus for his nationalistic image.
“The party will not only look at fielding popular faces but will also look at fielding candidates with mass base,” state BJP president Ashwani Sharma said. He said that while selecting candidates, party workers of that area would also be taken into confidence and their opinion will be sought.