Former cricketer Dinesh Mongia joined the BJP today at a ceremony in the party’s Delhi office. Mr Mongia, 44, took a primary membership of the ruling party at the centre to start his political innings, likely from Punjab where assembly elections will be held in a few months.
The former cricketer who played limited over internationals for India is a resident of Punjab.
Three Punjab MLAs – Fateh Jung Bajwa, Balwinder Singh Laddi and Rana Gurmeet Sodhi – have also joined the BJP.
In the 2017 Punjab assembly election, the Congress won an absolute majority by taking 77 seats and ousted the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government after 10 years.
The Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 seats in the 117-member Punjab assembly. The Shiromani Akali Dal won 15 seats, while the BJP got three.
Former cricketers joining political parties before election is not uncommon. Before the general election in 2019, former cricketer Gautam Gambhir joined the BJP and contested the election. He won by nearly five lakh votes to defeat Aam Aadmi Party rival Atishi.
The electoral battle for the ruling Congress in Punjab is likely to be intense this time, unlike the last election when it comfortably won. After former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s exit, the party has been facing pressures from the rivals like the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP, which are looking for chinks in the Congress armour.
Amarinder Singh’s new party Punjab Lok Congress is already working with the BJP and former Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s front on a seat-sharing plan.