Age no bar as BJP eyes winning factor while distributing tickets
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not stop its politicians aged above 75 years or sitting Rajya Sabha members from contesting the upcoming national elections, but their chances of winning will determine if they are fielded as BJP candidates, two ruling party leaders said on Saturday.
The BJP has an undeclared rule of not offering ministerial position to those aged above 75, and a section of the party has insisted they should not be fielded in the direct election this time.
LK Advani (91), Murli Manohar Joshi (85), Bhagat Singh Koshyari (76), BC Khanduri (84), Kalraj Mishra (77) and Shanta Kumar (84) are prominent among the over one dozen Lok Sabha members of the BJP who have crossed the age bar for ministerial aspirants.Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will turn 76 in April.
The decision on whether Advani and Joshi – the two veterans who were given an advisory role in the party after the 2014 elections – should contest the Lok Sabha polls this time will be left to them, the leaders cited above said.
“If a candidate has good chances of winning, he will get a (party) ticket,” one of the two leaders said on condition of anonymity after a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board late on Friday night.
Also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the meeting of the BJP’s highest decision-making body lasted more than three hours and decided to explore tie-ups with more smaller parties. It announced a pre-poll pact with the All Jharkhand Students Union of Other Backward Class (OBC) leader Sudesh Mahto in Jharkhand.
Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi are among the BJP Rajya Sabha members who could contest the Lok Sabha polls on the party ticket.
“If there is a sitting MLA with strong possibility of winning election, he might be fielded too,” the first leader said. “The list of BJP candidates will also include a significant number of achievers from different fields.”
Modi will seek re-election from Varanasi, but a decision on the prime minister contesting a second seat has not been taken yet, the leader said.
The BJP will come out with its first list of candidates shortly after the Election Commission announces the poll schedule.
“Our discussion to identify candidates is near complete,” the second BJP leader said, also on condition of anonymity. “A review of performance of sitting MPs has been done and its report will be crucial to determine their fate.”
The BJP currently has 269 MPs, including speaker Sumitra Mahajan, in the Lok Sabha.
“We sent a two-page questionnaire to every MP, asking them to share details such as caste profile of the seat and the possible contender from the rival parties,” the second leader said.
MPs were asked to share details of five major achievements they notched up during the last five years, and also five ways in which the central and state BJP governments contributed to their areas .They were asked to submit the names of five achievers – from different fields –in their constituency