The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Uttar Pradesh unit is finding it difficult to take a call on the requests of several rival MPs — sitting and former — who want to join the party hoping to ride the Narendra Modi wave.
“Upper castes and Other Backward Classes are favourably inclined towards BJP this time. The leaders whose poll fortunes depend on these social groups now want to align with the BJP,” said a senior BJP leader o condition of anonymity.
It shouldn’t have been an issue, but the BJP cadre believe this has given rise to two potential problems.
First, several old timers, who smelled victory after a long time, fear new entrants with “higher winnability” would be preferred over them. It is creating bad blood within.
Second, the party might end up frittering away its advantage by accepting either tainted candidates or those with lower chances of a victory.
That is why Samajwadi Party MP from Kaiserganj Brijbhushan Sharan Singh’s return to the saffron party is being strongly opposed by the local BJP unit. Brijbhushan wants to contest from Faizabad and has also demanded two more seats, Kaiserganj and Gonda, for his son Prateek and a close aide.
“Local BJP leaders, mostly Brahmins, are opposed to his return. The party’s central unit is in a fix. He was supposed to join much earlier,” said a senior BJP leader.
Similarly, local BJP leaders have put their foot down about Congress MP Jagdambika Pal’s entry, arguing he wields little influence in the area and wants to return to Parliament “riding the NaMo wave”. Samajwadi Party MP from Gazipur Radhe Mohan Singh too wants to cross over, but the state leaders have put up hurdle, saying he is not a “winnable” candidate.
However, the party may find it easier to decide on the request of Jaunpur MP Dhananjay Singh, who was arrested in a case involving the death of his domestic help. “Local leaders have told the party’s central leadership not to induct him as it would bring bad name to the party,” the leader said.
The party has also not been able to take a call on the case of Vijay Bahadur Singh, expelled BSP MP from Hamirpur. Congress MP from Unnao, Anu Tandon, also faces opposition from the BJP leaders in her constituency.
“The Aam Aadmi Party might rake up her proximity to a corporate who is being criticised by Arvind Kejriwal. This might embarrass the party and we want to avoid such a situation,” a senior BJP leader said.
The party also faces a peculiar situation in Bihar, where upper caste leaders have revolted against its decision to induct Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP and former Nitish Kumar aide Upendra Kushwaha into the NDA fold.
Bhumihar leaders CP Thakur and Giriraj Singh and Brahmin leader Ashwini Chowbey did not attend Narendra Modi’s rally in Muzaffarpur on Monday.
All these leaders had been vocal Modi supporters even when the JD(U), despite being in alliance with the BJP, had “banned” the Gujarat chief minister’s entry into Bihar. A section of the upper caste leaders in the BJP also fret the party’s “aggressive OBC politics” could push these classes towards the Lalu Prasad-led RJD.