As the crucial Bihar assembly elections draw near, voices of dissent from within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seem to grow louder.
RK Singh and Shatrughan Sinha, Lok Sabha MPs from Ara and Patna Saheb respectively, are not the only lawmakers to have embarrassed the party. With Prime Minister Narendra Modi widely being acknowledged as the sole vote winner for the BJP, at least eight sitting MPs from Bihar have left the party red-faced through their statements or actions.
Chhedi Paswan, who in the May 2014 poll defeated the then Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar (Congress) to win the Sasaram seat in western Bihar for the BJP, is the latest in the long list of parliamentarians who have voiced their discomfort with the internal functioning of the party.
Upset over the denial of poll ticket to his son Ravi Paswan, Chhedi accused the BJP leadership of not being even-handed in the treatment of wards of its senior leaders.
“If Dr CP Thakur’s (BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP) son Vivek Thakur can be given a ticket (from Brahmpur), why can’t my son be allotted a seat of his choice?” the Sasaram MP fumed.
Since then, his son has jumped ship and will be contesting the election as a Samajwadi Party nominee from Chenari.
Chhedi’s nephew Chandrashekhar Paswan, who was earlier active in the poll management for his uncle, has declared himself as an independent candidate for the Mohania assembly seat, which was held by the senior Paswan before he was elected to Lok Sabha.
Earlier this year, Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad had gone hammer and tongs against his party colleague and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley over a controversy related to the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).
Azad had said Jaitley, who doubles as a cricket administrator, and other BCCI officials should also be held responsible for the FEMA violations during the second season of the mega cricketing event in addition to tainted former boss of the IPL Lalit Modi.
He has then tweeted on June 14 that there was an “asteen ka saanp” or a snake in the grass in the BJP that had conspired to leak information about external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her family’s association with Lalit Modi, who is currently wanted on charges of money laundering.
While some voiced opinions against their colleagues within the party, others chose to verbally assault political opponents.
BJP’s Buxar MP Ashwini Chaubey did his party disservice when he allegedly described Congress president Sonia Gandhi as the mythical demonic character Putana, who was sent by Kansa to poison an infant Lord Krishna, in Nawada on June 19.
He also referred to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and chief minister Nitish Kumar, partners in the anti-BJP Grand Alliance as the criminal duo of Billa and Ranga, convicted and hanged to death in 1978 for the murder of New Delhi-based siblings Sanjay and Geeta Chopra.
In April this year, BJP Nawada MP and Union minister Giriraj Singh was widely criticised for his racial remark after he said the Congress president’s “white skin” was the reason the party had accepted her leadership. Singh later apologised after BJP president Amit Shah took him to task.
Hari Manjhi, the party’s MP from Gaya, caused much embarrassment when during a casual chit-chat with those sharing the dais with him ahead of Union HRD minister Smriti Irani’s function at Gaya last month, he “jokingly” referred to the BJP as “Baura Jayewala Party (party going berserk).”
Though the remark in jest caused much embarrassment to the party when it was reported in a newspaper, the worst was yet to come.
Ara MP RK Singh, former Union home secretary, last month alleged that party tickets were being sold to criminals, a charge that the BJP vehemently denied and dismissed as “baseless”.
In another display of rebellion, the day PM Modi launched a scathing attack on the Bihar chief minister at a rally in Muzaffarpur in July, Shatrughan Sinha met Nitish Kumar. He was also effusive in his praise for the CM.
Hoping to rein in the slew of embarrassing situations created for the party over the last few months, CP Thakur, the head of the party campaign committee for the Bihar assembly polls, said: “There’s surely a need for party MPs to exercise restraint in their public utterances. Any grievance should be aired only on party platforms.”