A section of BJP leaders on Saturday blamed former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, a member of the party’s state election committee, for not including many of them in the list of candidates to contest the February 15 poll.
In its list of 64 candidates announced on January 16, the BJP denied tickets to many contenders, including four MLAs.
It, however, accommodated nine out of 10 former Congress MLAs who revolted against chief minister Harish Rawat in March last year.
BJP insiders claim Bahuguna played key role behind the entry of former minister Yashpal Arya and son Sanjeev Arya into the saffron party.
Buzz is on how Bahuguna tried to secure seats for his supporters (mostly rebels), who could back him in becoming CM, if the BJP comes to power in the state.
“Bahuguna’s closeness to national joint general secretary Shiv Prakash helped him in securing tickets for all rebels and his son-Saurabh Bahuguna from Sitarganj seat. It’s his strategy to fix his players so that he could become chief minister,” a party leader said requesting anonymity.
The insiders said that along with national election in-charge JP Nadda and Dharmendra Pradhan, others like Shyam Jaju favoured candidates proposed by Bahuguna.
In fact, the committee didn’t pay much heed to suggestions of BJP state unit chief Ajay Bhatt and pacified former chief minister BC Khanduri by giving ticket to his daughter Ritu Bhushan Khanduri from the Yamkeshwar seat.
Candidates suggested by Nainital MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari also failed to bag tickets.
“Koshyari’s suggestions weren’t considered because he already had difference of opinion with Shiv Prakash and Bahuguna,” another leader said on condition of anonymity.
The state unit president, however, rejected the claim.
“The entire decision of distribution of tickets was done by the parliamentary committee,” Bhatt said.
When contacted, Bahuguna told Hindustan Times, “The main criterion for selecting any candidate was winnability. I have been in politics for the past 24 years and I understand its intricacies.”
“My main aim is that the BJP should form government in Uttarakhand. I am not putting my interest before this objective. The BJP welcomed me with open arms. It’s a cadre-based party that treats its leaders as workers and that’s why it’s still standing strong,” Bahuguna said.