Several ruling Bharatiya Janata Party sitting legislators, including some of its cabinet ministers, are “waiting in the wings” to join the Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha, a regional outfit, after being denied party tickets for the ensuing assembly elections.
The dejected lot includes about 30 sitting BJP legislators, besides some cabinet ministers. What left the BJP leadership literally red-faced was a spate of resignations by disappointed ticket seekers.
Incidentally, the URM, a recently formed regional outfit, has emerged as a “rallying point for most of the sitting BJP legislators who have resigned from the party.” They are interested in joining the URM because it’s a regional party that had been a part of the BJP before URM chief Lt Gen T P S Rawat decided to part ways with it, according to URM spokesperson P C Thapaliyal.
The grapevine has it that of the about 30 BJP dissidents, four are already in touch with URM chief and, if all goes as per plans, they might join the regional outfit. They are sitting BJP MLAs Khajan Das, Kedar Singh Fonia, Anil Nautiyal and Beena Mahrana. Of these, Das, a scheduled caste leader and a sitting legislator from the (now defunct) Dhanaulti assembly constituency, is a cabinet minister.
Similarly, octogenarian Fonia, a tribal who represents Badrinath constituency has been a former cabinet minister. The other two sitting BJP legislators Anil Nautiyal (Karnprayag) and Bina Maharana (Champavat) have also been reportedly lobbying with the URM chief for tickets. In fact, former BJP leader and Tehri district panchayat chief Ratan Singh Gunsola has not only joined the URM but has also been given the ticket from Tehri constituency. He quit the BJP after being denied party ticket from Tehri seat, Thapaliyal said.
Fonia is reportedly trying to ensure that he and all the three other legislators succeed in getting URM tickets. Orchestrating that move, along with him, is senior BJP leader and former chief minister Nityanand Swami. Octogenarian Swami is stated to be sore with the BJP high command after his daughter, Jyotsana Sharma, was denied party ticket from Dehradun (Cantt).
Fonia, too, appears upset with the high command. “The BJP leaders have literally thrown us out of their house,” he said while referring to BJP’s disappointed ticket seekers. “We will have to seek shelter somewhere else,” he told Hindustan Times.