iconimg Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Kumar Uttam, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 21, 2014
The BJP would normally have underplayed this SMS party members are forwarding: Aspirants may try to get Lok Sabha tickets through Olx (online shopping site). But if eyebrows are being raised, there is a reason. Many within the BJP are reacting to lopsided ticket distribution and they fear the party could be losing the plot despite a head start riding the ‘Narendra Modi wave’.

The BJP’s lists of candidates have been greeted with protests, suspicion of manipulation and apprehensions about how they could sabotage Modi’s march to Delhi. These do not augur well for the party on the eve of elections.

If the hurry to stitch up alliances (with Ramvilas Paswan and Upendra Kushwaha) in Bihar upset upper caste leaders, BJP’s eagerness to roll out the red carpet for foes in Uttar Pradesh surprised many.

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The ticket distribution exercise exposed the differences between leaders in the states. If Gopinath Munde stole a march over Nitin Gadkari in the choice of candidates in Maharashtra, former chief minister Arjun Munda clipped the wings of his rivals in Jharkhand. Party leaders are also questioning the ‘deal’ in Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, which could work to Congress’ advantage.

But UP, accounting for 80 Lok Sabha seats, seems to be the biggest concern. The country’s most populous state is seen as Modi’s launch pad for reaching the magic figure, but reports from the battleground could be worrying.

Ticket to SP turncoat like Brijbhushan Sharan Singh from Kaiserganj and Congress MP Jagadambika Pal from Domariyaganj has upset local Brahmins. Pal got ticket within hours of joining the BJP.

The party’s decision to shift Kalraj Mishra to Deoria — to accommodate Murli Manohar Joshi in Kanpur — has angered former state president Surya Pratap Shahi, whose support base among Bhumihar voters could influence the outcome. Angry workers burnt the effigy of BJP chief Rajnath Singh for the party fielding Ravindra Kushwaha from Salempur.

BJP’s candidate in Chhindwara (Union minister Kamal Nath’s constituency) and Rajgarh (Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s home turf) in Madhya Pradesh are also believed to be lightweights.

State BJP chief Narendra Singh Tomar’s decision to change his seat from Morena to Gwalior also became a subject of speculation in Madhya Pradesh. So was the denial of ticket to Ashok Argal of cash-for-vote scam fame, from Bhind. Four sitting MPs were dropped in Bhopal and two defectors rewarded with BJP tickets. Five-time MP Phool Chand Verma wrote a letter to Rajnath Singh to flag concerns about ticket distribution.

The scenario is similar in Haryana, where BJP preferred Congress turncoat Ramesh Kaushik over its Jat face and spokesman Captain Abhimanyu in Sonipat. This invited demonstrations from local BJP workers. Pradeep Sangwan too resigned as BJP’s state secretary to contest as an independent from Sonipat.

BJP’s decision on Abhimanyu may be a shot in the arm for Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, wary of the rise of Jat leadership in BJP.

Elsewhere, the anger is over ‘outsiders’ such as Kirron Kher in Chandigarh and Hema Malini in Mathura.

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