Union minister Sampla is new Punjab BJP chief

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Chandigarh, April 8 (IANS) Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Dalit leader Vijay Sampla was on Friday named as the BJP’s Punjab president, less than a year ahead of the next assembly polls.

Sampla, a first-time MP from the Hoshiarpur reserved seat, belongs to the Ravidassia community among Dalits.

Inducted in the Narendra Modi central government in November 2014 as a minister of state, Sampla, 54, has had a laborious past – having worked as a farm porter and doing other labour jobs in Punjab and in Saudi Arabia.

“I have worked in fields, done ‘palledari’ (worked as a porter on a farm) and was in Saudi Arabia for 11 years where I did labour (jobs). I worked as an assistant to a plumber and a mason. I became a plumber, technician and electrician,” Sampla said earlier after being inducted in the union government.

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Sampla started attending Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh meetings and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 1998.

Punjab has a 31 percent Dalit population – the highest ratio among states to the total population.

Polling to the state’s 117-member assembly seats is scheduled in February next year.

The state has a Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance government in power since 2007.

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