The BJP suffered a double blow on Sunday when three UP secretaries resigned from their posts and the party's former youth wing chief, now under suspension, announced he would join the Congress.
Apart from being peeved at the denial of the poll ticket, the grouse of the three state secretaries - Daya Shankar Singh, Santosh Singh and Ashwani Tyagi - was that Pankaj Singh, son of BJP leader Rajnath Singh, was made state general secretary. The BJP rebels said this was in violation of the party's constitution. They have faxed their resignations to party chief Nitin Gadkari.
However, a BJP press release said several party leaders and workers welcomed Pankaj's elevation as state general secretary. The move was seen as an attempt to accommodate Pankaj, whose hopes of being fielded from the Varanasi (north) assembly constituency were dashed after senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi's opposition, said party leaders. The ticket has gone to Ravindra Jayaswal.
Pankaj was involved with the BJP youth wing since 2004 before being made state secretary in 2010. In 2007, Rajnath Singh asked him to quit the post of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha state chief after hearing that there was some opposition to his continuance. In the same year, Rajnath Singh had ignored requests from senior BJP leaders to give the ticket to his son for the UP polls. As he was then the party's national chief, Rajnath Singh had taken the stand that he could not be seen favouring his son.
A BJP leader considered close to Rajnath Singh said: "The entire protest appears to be a sponsored one."
Meanwhile, BJP leader Ram Ashish Rai, former national chief of the party's youth wing, declared he would join the Congress on January 24. "I have been humiliated by the party for speaking out against the induction of BSP-discard Babu Singh Kushwaha, whose role in the National Rural Health Mission scam is being probed by the CBI. So I have decided to quit," Rai told HT.