There seems to be no end to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s troubles. After its central party headquarters was hit by image-shattering acts of dissidence, now it’s the turn of its Lucknow unit to face dissensions.
Piqued after his son Ashutosh Tandon (50) was denied a ticket to contest the Lucknow (West) Assembly seat, BJP MP Lalji Tandon got several of his supporters to resign.
His pressure tactics failed to impress the party’s central leadership that persisted with its decision to field Amit Puri (44), who had contested as a rebel BJP candidate a few years ago, from Lucknow (East).
The 77-year-old party warhorse, who called the shots when former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee was around, refused to give his blessings to Puri when the latter called on him on Saturday. His supporters assert that the party high command had set a wrong trend by backing a rebel and many more BJP workers had resigned in protest.
In a clear indication that the party high command would not bow to pressure tactics, BJP President Rajnath Singh and party MP Kalraj Mishra lent their full support to Puri.
For a person whose writ used to run in party affairs as long as former prime minister was in active politics, failure to get his son a ticket to contest the polls is being seen as effective marginalisation Lalji Tandon in party affairs.
That the going would be tough for Lalji Tandon, with his mentor out of active politics, came early in July during a State Party Working Committee meeting. BJP chief Rajnath Singh had taken a jibe at him. Party general secretary Arun Jaitley too had taken a pot shot at leaders by asserting that natural leaders would get preference in ticket distribution.
The denial of a ticket to Lalji Tandon’s son is in line with Jaitley’s comments, coming in the backdrop of the defeat of the sons of UP BJP chief Ramapati Ram Tripathi and legislature party leader O.P. Singh in the general elections.
If the ticket were given to the junior Tandon, the BJP would have attracted the chrage of encouraging dynastic politics, which it always criticised other parties for, said a party source. The
RSS, too, had not taken kindly to the fact that the BJP leaders were blatantly promoting their sons, the source said.
“It is true that Lalji Tandon’s son would have been a better choice, given his clout in the old city area. Yet by preferring a party worker, Puri, the message that the party is trying to send is positive. The party has taken a decision and sooner or later, even Lalji Tandon, would fall in line,” party sources said.
It remains to be seen if Lalji Tandon’s anger makes the battle for the BJP bastion of Lucknow (West) more worrisome for the party.