Denied tickets, some BJP MPs mull over options

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By, Lucknow
Mar 29, 2019 12:50 PM IST

Bharat Singh, the BJP MP from Ballia, wrote an angry letter to the party leadership after being denied the party ticket from his constituency.

Bharat Singh, the BJP MP from Ballia, wrote an angry letter to the party leadership on Thursday after being denied the party ticket from his constituency.

Ballia MP supporters protesting against the denial of ticket to their leader Bharat Singh.
Ballia MP supporters protesting against the denial of ticket to their leader Bharat Singh.

The move came a day after Anshul Verma, the BJP’s Dalit MP from Hardoi, dramatically handed over his resignation to a ‘chowkidar’ (watchman) at the UP BJP office and defected to the Samajwadi Party. 

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Axed for the Lok Sabha polls, both MPs have challenged the party’s decision, wanting to know the ‘reasons’ for being dropped.

While some like Verma have crossed over to the opposition, others are mulling their ‘options’. 

In his letter, Bharat Singh has described himself as ‘janata ka chowkidar’ (watchman of the people) and listed a series of development works undertaken for the constituency.

When asked, State BJP president Dr Mahendra Natha Pandey said Bharat Singh is a senior and respected member of the party. “His feelings will be honoured.”

Pandey, however, said that he had no idea about the letter.

For his part, Verma said, “It’s clear that while the BJP talks of development on public platforms, it’s not enough for securing a ticket at least. Other factors are at work.” Priyanka Rawat, the BJP’s Dalit MP from Barabanki, who was also denied the party ticket, said she was hurt. 

“The leadership must explain why the ticket was denied to a woman and a Dalit,” she said. 

Before Anshul Verma, Bahraich MP Savitri Bai Phule had defected to the Congress and Allahabad MP Shyama Charan Gupta had switched loyalties to the Samajwadi Party (SP). Before defecting, they had launched a frontal attack on their party leadership, accusing it of being ‘anti-dalit’ and ‘corrupt.’  

Chaudhary Babu Lal, the BJP’s Jat MP from Fatehpur Sikri, who has been replaced too, is angry.

“The party needs to at least tell me the reason why I fitted in their scheme of things in 2014 LS polls and why I don’t do so now?” he asked. 

Babulal, who also held a panchayat to solicit the views of his supporters, is reported to be weighing his options. 

"Some party MPs are in touch with the opposition," a local BJP leader said, adding that while many won't "switch" they would definitely not "work for the party."

In many cases, the sitting MPs like Babu Lal, who have been denied tickets, are questioning their replacement.  

It’s not just the BJP that is grappling with dissenters. Other parties like the BSP too are having similar trouble. In Sitapur, for instance, cadres questioned the BSP leadership’s decision to field former minister Nakul Dubey from there.

“We want a local candidate,” a BSP leader said in Sitapur.

But it is the BJP that is witnessing maximum dissent after dropping 13 MPs while declaring 62 candidates for Lok Sabha polls in UP. 

Even though the BJP is yet to declare its Rae Bareli candidate, Ajay Agarwal has written a letter to the party leadership to forewarn it of risking “anger of Vaishya” community if he were ‘dropped’.

He had unsuccessfully contested against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in 2014. 

Earlier, Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj warned the party of an OBC backlash if he were to be dropped.

The BJP MP quickly disowned the letter later and found his name retained on the BJP list that was issued shortly after.  

“I think what you describe as dissent showcases the value of a BJP ticket. I won’t call it rebellion. That’s media vocabulary. See, ultimately a ticket can be given to one candidate in each seat. But, why aren’t you seeing a similar situation in other parties? It’s because their ticket hardly has any value and it’s the BJP alone where chances of winning are the most,” BJP leader Navin Srivastava said.

Former union minister Ram Shankar Katheria, the party’s Dalit MP from Agra has been moved to Etawah, his home district but his supporters don’t seem too happy. BJP leaders say that the decision to shift Katheria out of Agra was taken on the basis of “survey reports” that included assessment of local MLAs of the party. The cadres have also expressed their resentment against several other BJP leaders. For instance in Bansgaon, the Lok Sabha constituency adjacent to Gorakhpur, the cadres have raised slogans, “Modi-Yogi se bair nahi, Kamlesh teri khair nahi (we don’t have any problems with Modi or Yogi but Kamlesh better watch out now)”.  

In Shahjahanpur, supporters of union minister Krishna Raj, the sitting MP, have blamed a “powerful UP minister” for her being denied a ticket. 

"I don't think BJP chief Amit Shah is unduly bothered about defectors or protestors. Given his style of functioning, he must already be thinking ahead. All the same, in an election that is expected to be fiercely contested, such anger may not be good news. In a majority of the cases, the sitting MPs have refused to accept their replacement," said Athar Siddiqui of the Centre for Objective Research and Development. 

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    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based assistant editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write off beat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans but from the newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn

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