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BJP may have plans for Arvinder Lovely and Rana Sodhi

There is intense speculation in political circles on whether Arvinder Singh Lovely, former president of the Delhi Congress, who had quit and joined the Saffron brigade in the middle of Elections, would be the BJP’s Chief Ministerial face in 2025. Similarly, the party could also grant some bigger responsibility to Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, who […]

There is intense speculation in political circles on whether Arvinder Singh Lovely, former president of the Delhi Congress, who had quit and joined the Saffron brigade in the middle of Elections, would be the BJP’s Chief Ministerial face in 2025. Similarly, the party could also grant some bigger responsibility to Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, who lost the Ferozepur Lok Sabha poll by the smallest margin in Punjab, and thus would play a much larger role in the border state. The plan could be a part of the BJP’s Sikh outreach initiative given that in the recently concluded polls, the community had by and large not supported the party’s candidates.

Arvinder Singh Lovely, enjoyed a good reputation in the capital and the Congress had made him the party boss twice. He was a contender for a Lok Sabha seat, but left in disgust after he was overlooked, and also because he claimed that the High Command had gone ahead with a tie up with the Aam Aadmi Party, despite the opposition from the rank and file. Many Congress loyalists had lashed out at him and accused him of betrayal, and stated that he was very much a part of the decision-making process, where the arrangement to contest the polls with AAP was finalized. His opponents also predicted that his political future was over, and no one would ever trust him for what he did to the Congress twice by both times opting for the Saffron Brigade, an ideology he had opposed during his years with the grand old party.

However, the BJP has been most worried that the Sikhs had not voted for the party in most areas and there was a need to bring them back into their fold. The community had been supportive of the BJP following the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, and it was a rude shock that in many parts of the city, the expected backing was missing. The BJP is also keen to consolidate its Punjabi vote bank which had withered away, particularly after the bosses ignored this section and instead preferred to put its weight behind the Bania community; many of the state presidents in the past two decades have been from that community though the present chief is a Punjabi. It may be recalled that the Punjabis were the core strength of the party since the Jana Sangh days, and numerous leaders such as Madan Lal Khurana, VK Malhotra and Kidar Nath Sahani, and before that Balraj Madhok and Balraj Khanna were its faces in the local elections. The party has yet to win the Assembly elections which it lost in 1998 to the Congress and has been sitting in Opposition ever since.

The Central leadership which may undergo changes, given that JP Nadda’s tenure is likely to be over very soon, would obviously have plans to resuscitate the organization in the capital. It is the reason why Virendra Sachdeva was made the Delhi BJP boss and now first time MP Harsh Malhotra has been inducted in the Union Council of ministers. The BJP would go out in the Assembly polls next year better prepared and it is in this context that Arvinder Singh Lovely, who also served as a minister in the Sheila Dikshit government, could be the Chief Ministerial face. His projection would also serve to help in Punjab. The BJP would hope that once Lovely gets the official nod, he could bring into fold many Congress functionaries to further weaken that party which appears to be struggling, and wishes to make a comeback.

The recent Lok Sabha elections were decisively in favour of the BJP, and this is the outcome which the central leadership would want to repeat in the Assembly polls. Thus, Lovely’s projection could be a part of the larger plan. In any case, he has already started his mass contact programs from East Delhi where he has become active once again on a daily basis. Similarly, the BJP’s central leadership is keen that it should make forays into Punjab where it failed to secure even a single seat. Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, former minister and once a close aide of Captain Amarinder Singh, is being viewed as a possible choice for a larger role. Sodhi had lost the Lok Sabha by about 10,000 votes and has since then been touring his constituency for thanksgiving. His bête noire, Sunil Jakhar is the current state president and like him, he too had come from the Congress. He was miffed at not being made the CM following Amarinder’s resignation but has not been able to deliver despite being given the important position by the BJP. His resignation is on cards and the speculation remains whether this responsibility would now go to Rana Sodhi or would he get some other role in Punjab. Many political observers had believed that Captain Amarinder Singh would be given the Governorship of some state. For record, he did not campaign in the concluded polls and his wife, Preneet Kaur lost from Patiala, the family bastion.

He has now gone abroad for a possible medical check-up. Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of former CM, Beant Singh, who lost from Ludhiana, has been inducted as a minister by Prime Minister Modi. Like Lovely and Sodhi, he is a part of the Sikh outreach initiative of the BJP. Sodhi is considered close to Home Minister Amit Shah and reportedly enjoys his patronage.

Therefore, the speculation regarding him could have some basis. However, time alone shall tell what the BJP’s central leadership finally decides.

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