Lok Sabha elections 2019: Sumitra Mahajan won’t fight polls over BJP’s ‘indecisiveness’
Outgoing Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, 76, an eight time Member of Parliament, said on Friday that she would not contest the upcoming national polls, referring to what she termed the indecisiveness of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership in naming a candidate for her constituency, Madhya Pradesh’s Indore, which she has represented for the past 30 years.
“Bharatiya Janata Party has not announced its candidate in Indore till date. Why this situation of indecision? It’s possible that the party is hesitant in taking a decision,” Mahajan wrote in an open letter released to the media. “However, I had discussed with the seniors in the party long back and had left the decision to them. It seems there is still hesitation in their mind. Therefore, I announce that I will not contest Lok Sabha polls, hence party can take its decision without any hesitation and with a free mind.”
Mahajan turns 76 years old on April 12, a day after the first phase of polling. BJP president Amit Shah has been quoted saying in an interview to the magazine The Week that the BJP has decided not to field candidates aged above 75 years. The decision led to veteran BJP leaders like LK Advani, 91, and MM Joshi, 85, being omitted from its candidates’ lists.
Mahajan’s letter was released a day after Advani wrote a blog expressing “sincere gratitude” to the people of Gandhinagar, the city from where he has been elected to the Lok Sabha six times since 1991. In the blog, he spelled out the BJP’s concept of nationalism, saying it never regarded those who disagreed with it politically as “anti-national” and always respected the “freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level.”
Mahajan is the first woman MP to win eight polls to the Lok Sabha. Before she set the record, CPI’s Geeta Mukherjee won Bengal’s Panskura LS seat seven times between 1980 and 2000.
The BJP has announced candidates for 18 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state and is yet to take a call on Bhopal, Vidisha and Indore. Vidisha is being represented by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, who has already expressed her unwillingness to contest polls on health grounds. The party seems to be reluctant to repeat sitting MP from Bhopal, Alok Sanjar, against Congress’s Digvijaya Singh, whose candidacy was announced on March 24.
State BJP chief spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya said, “It’s a decision of central election committee of the party as to who will contest from which seat. As far as Sumitra ji’s letter is concerned, leaders are free to express their views.”
State Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said, “The feeling that Sumitra Mahajan has expressed is the feeling of a number of senior BJP leaders ...The BJP is in the grip of a few hands and all other party leaders and workers are feeling suffocated.”