Disgruntled BJP leaders in Bihar’s silk city, Bhagalpur, have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioning him for calling Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi ‘shahzada’ when his own party is promoting nepotism in the state.
In his election speeches, Modi often takes a dig at the alleged dynastic politics promoted by Congress calling Rahul shahzada - an Urdu word for scion of an imperial estate - and accusing the Gandhi family of usurping reigns of the party. The word that he has been using to describe the Congress vice-president and Sonia Gandhi’s son often earns him lots of applause at rallies.
Little did Modi know that the word be used by his own party men to attack him during the on-going campaigns for the tough Bihar elections where at least five senior leaders have managed tickets for their sons overlooking several leaders who say they deserved the tickets and have contributed a lot to the party.
The decision has triggered protests in Bharatiya Janata Party units at Bhagalpur, Brahampur, Digha, Agiaon and Meenapur where sons of senior BJP leaders like Ashwini Choubey, CP Thakur, Ganga Prasad, Muni Lal and Dinesh Khuswaha have been fielded by the party.
In Bhagalpur assembly constituency, that will vote in the first of five phase Bihar polls slated October 12, the BJP Mahanagar president, Vijay Sah, revolted against the party’s decision to field former health minister Ashwini Choubey’s 35-year-old son, Arjit Saswat Choubey, and filed his nomination as an independent candidate on Tuesday.
“We often hear Modiji denouncing dynastic politics, but here in Bihar his party leaders are going all out to promote their shahzades grossly compromising the party’s interests,” Sah told HT soon after filing his nomination as a strong mob of at least 2,000 senior party leaders cutting across caste lines rallied behind him.
Several senior leaders drove down to Patna, few even flew to Delhi, to apprise senior leaders of the drastic consequences if the party did not withdraw Arjit’s name.
“No one listened to us. We waited till Monday for the party core committee to rethink, but to no avail. Fed up, we shot a missive to Prime Minister Modi apprising him of the invasion of shahzada culture in Bihar BJP before deciding to go with Vijay Sah,” said district BJP vice-president, Niranjan Prasad Sah, who was also a strong contender for the ticket.
Arjit, a computer engineer who also holds an MBA degree from Australia, has said he would withdraw his candidature if the party workers felt he was not fit to represent them in the assembly.
“It is my selfless service as an RSS worker for the last 32 years that has earned me the ticket,” said Arjit.
Political analysts say Modi will have to think twice before using the word shahzada in Bihar while campaigning for his party.
“When Modi came to Bhagalpur to address an election rally early this month, he influenced and swung the voters’ mood. Then the NDA seemed to be winning at least five of the six assembly constituencies of Bhagalpur district. After ticket distribution, the prospects have come down to 1: 5,” said political analyst and social worker Mukesh Kumar Singh in Bhagalpur.