BJP MPs on Tuesday strongly criticised party chief Nitin Gadkari’s support for London-based businessman Anshuman Mishra as a candidate from Jharkhand for the Rajya Sabha elections, forcing a possible rethink on the matter.
Sources said the party high command might issue a whip to its MLAs not to vote for Mishra after open criticism at the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting. The independent candidate was also being persuaded to withdraw from the race.
While senior leader Yashwant Sinha sought the intervention of LK Advani — who promised to speak to Gadkari — many MPs alleged the party had “sold” the Rajya Sabha ticket.
“Six party MLAs signed Mishra’s nomination papers. Top party members were present when he filed the papers. A clear impression has gone that he is supported by the BJP,” said Sinha.
Sushma Swaraj conceded that “sentiment was building up in the party” against Mishra.
The MPs were also upset by the denial of a ticket to SS Ahluwalia, BJP’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha and a Jharkhand MP.
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Shanta Kumar, MP from Himachal Pradesh, said Ahluwalia was an effective leader in the upper House and deserved another term. Nawada MP Bhola Singh alleged the party was “bowing to money power”.
Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj said the party should have prevailed upon JD(U) to give it three seats in Bihar because it had more spare votes than the JD(U) and could have helped Ahluwalia get another term.
The BJP and JMM have 18 MLAs each in Jharkhand. Votes of 27 legislators are required to win a Rajya Sabha seat. The JMM has fielded RK Agarwal and asked the BJP not to put up a candidate.