BJP is facing ‘rebellion’ in UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab after several party leaders were denied tickets to accommodate “outsiders” in the first list of candidates announced on Monday for the assembly elections in these states.
As protests swelled, a meeting of the BJP’s election committee on Tuesday to finalise candidates for the remaining seats had to be put off. About two dozen “outsiders” figured in the list of 149 candidates for Uttar Pradesh.
The party is making a hard push to regain power in the state, where it won 71 of the 80 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In neighbouring Uttarakhand, as many as 15 candidates, out of 64, are new entrants to the party. There are also resentments over relatives of BJP veterans getting tickets.
Punjab BJP chief Vijay Sampla, too, is upset over the selection of some candidates. There were reports that he offered to resign from the party post, but Sampla denied it.
Many of the disgruntled ticket hopefuls threatened to contest as Independents against the party’s official nominees.
BJP, however, tried to downplay the development, saying the protests were the manifestation of the growing demand for party tickets. “It shows we are winning. Once we come to power, rebel leaders will be convinced,” a BJP office-bearer said.
Notwithstanding the brave face put up by the party, BJP workers demonstrated outside Amit Shah’s residence in New Delhi, forcing senior party leaders looking after the election affairs to rush to the residence of the party president for a “stock-taking meeting.”
In UP, party workers burnt posters of Etah MP Rajbir Singh after his son was given a ticket from Atrauli. Rajbir is son of Rajasthan governor and former UP CM Kalyan Singh. Protests were also held against Union minister Santosh Gangwar in Bareilly. Earlier, a ticket to former BSP leader Kesar Singh from Nawabganj assembly segment prompted resignation of some office-bearers.
Similar protests were witnessed in Uttarakhand against the party’s choice of candidates that include 10 former Congress legislators. They were particularly peeved over the denial of ticket to three-time MLA Vijaya Barthwal and sitting MLA and former state president TS Rawat.
Barthwal was denied nominations from Yamkeshwar to accommodate Ritu Khanduri Bhushan, daughter of former state chief minister BC Khanduri. Former Congress leader Satpal Maharaj, who was the first to rebel against CM Harish Rawat in 2014, was preferred over TS Rawat in Chaubattakhal.
(With inputs from Manish Chandra Pandey in Lucknow; Sukhdeep Kaur in Chandigarh; and Anupam Trivedi in Dehradun)