The BJP, which says it’s against dynastic politics, faces a big test ahead of the ticket distribution exercise for the 2017 UP polls. Reason: A record number of its leaders has sought tickets for their children and other family members.
Some high profile leaders who have recently joined the party and are seeking tickets for their family are Swami Prasad Maurya, Brajesh Pathak and Jugal Kishore.
Unable to resist the ‘baharis’ (outsiders) despite concerns from party loyalists, the BJP leadership said the party inducted outsiders to dent strong regional players in UP like the BSP and the SP. Now, as many of them seek tickets for the family, the big question is whether the party can now afford to antagonise them ahead of the elections.
Many like former UP Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi and former leader of the opposition in the UP assembly Swami Prasad Maurya are also members of BJP’s state election committee that would recommend candidates from a huge pile of 25,000 applicants. BJP sources say that the list of turncoats and loyalists lining up for tickets for their family, mostly sons or daughters, is huge.
When asked about the party’s stance on the issue, UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, who chaired a meeting of party’s election committee to short list candidates on Tuesday evening, said the party would consider only those children of leaders who apart from figuring in the party survey have served the party for at least ‘10-years’. The yardstick suits leaders like BJP UP vice president Gopal Tandon, son of veteran Lalji Tandon. Gopal is a lawmaker from Lucknow (east) assembly segment and has been in the organisation for more than a decade.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh, party’s UP general secretary has been expecting a party ticket since 2000. Party leaders say that while Gopal got a ticket in the by-polls after 2012 UP polls, Pankaj hasn’t got it so far. But the children of turncoat politicians won’t be able to make the cut if the BJP sticks to the ‘first-serve-for-10-years’ period.
When contacted Rita Joshi, a lawmaker from Lucknow cant, denied that any of her family members were in the race for a ‘party ticket.’ “I don’t know from where this started but let me make it clear that only I am seeking a party ticket and none else,” she told HT.
However, Maurya who joined the party with his children – son Utkrisht and daughter Sanghamitra – for whom he is reportedly seeking a party ticket along with him, said the BJP focus was only on ‘jitau ummedwar’ (winnability)’. “I am aware that BJP stand against dynastic politics. While the party leadership would take a call on tickets I guess the focus is not on relationships but winnability. A BJP government in UP would only be formed if most lawmakers win from BJP and that is it,” he said.
Maurya’s son and daughters had contested the 2012 UP polls on BSP ticket. After he walked out of BSP last year, BSP leaders claimed Maurya felt slighted because he was refused re-nomination from Padrauna from where he is a sitting MLA and asked to prepare from Unchahar - the seat his son had lost in 2012. Former BSP coordinator Jugal Kishore and former BSP MP Brajesh Pathak has not yet announced that they want tickets for their family.
Pathak, the former convener of the first Brahmin Sabha set up by the BSP in 2004, is reportedly interested in party ticket for his wife Namrata from Unnao Sadar seat from where she had contested in 2012 as well. Kishore too is seeking ticket for his son Saurabh Singh who had lost the Kasta seat in Lakhimpur Kheri in 2012 UP polls despite getting 65,000 votes.
“Leaders like LK Advani set a tall example of not promoting their own children. At the same time it would be unfortunate if someone is denied tickets merely because they happen to be someone’s children. I guess contribution to the party and winnability is all that should matter,” says BJP leader IP Singh. “As BJP goes all out to win UP, I guess its stand on dynastic politics could get diluted, as many including new entrants, are interested in party tickets for their kin,” says SK Dwivedi, a political expert.