Assembly polls: Ticket fights roil the “Bharatiya Jhagda Party”

BJP has been gleefully watching the turmoil in Samajwadi Party, but a spate of inner party feuds breaking out after it announced its first candidate lists for assembly polls are wiping away the smiles

Photo Pardep Pandit/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo Pardep Pandit/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

The party with a difference is presently the party of differences, as several reports come in of internal feuds and clashes breaking out within the Bharatiya Janata Party, once it announced its first lists of candidates for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab assembly polls. Amar Ujala, a leading Hindi daily in UP, summed up the angst of some in BJP against tickets given to ‘outsiders’ when it said “BJP ne danga aaropiyon va dal badaluon ko bhi diya ticket (BJP has given tickets to riot accused and those who changed parties)”.

Navbharat Times reported “some high profile” BJP leader was already unhappy with ticket distribution in Uttar Pradesh, which led to the initial delay in the announcement of candidates. According to the report, the delay was because the party could not decide the seat for Pankaj Singh, son of Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The report suggested Pankaj Singh wanted to contest from either the Noida or Sahibabad seats, but the party offered him Mirzapur or Mat in Mathura instead, on considerations of ‘winnability’. The same report said sitting MLA Amarpal Sharma, who was just expelled from the BSP, is lobbying hard to retain the Sahibabad ticket, this time as a BJP candidate.

But it’s not just the old-timers, even those who changed parties are said to be unhappy. New entrant Swami Prasad Maurya, the former BSP Leader of Opposition in the UP assembly who ditched the BSP to join the BJP, is reported to be upset with ticket distribution. His expectations of getting 25-30 tickets for his supporters have been dashed.

All is not well for the BJP in Uttarakhand too. After Union Health Minister JP Nadda announced the BJP’s candidates for the hill state on Monday, it turned out that the list included 15 ‘outsiders’, leading to unhappiness among party workers. Senior Congress MLA Yashpal Arya, who joined the BJP on Monday morning itself, was allotted a BJP ticket for Bazpur the same evening. His son Sanjeev Arya too will contest the Nainital assembly seat on a BJP ticket. Kedar Rawat, another former Congress MLA who joined BJP on Monday, is the party’s candidate for Yamunotri.

The BJP also seems to have paid no heed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diktat to party leaders not to seek tickets for their relatives. The Uttarakhand list features some prominent political dynasts. Saurabh Bahuguna, son of former Congress CM of Uttarakhand Vijay Bahuguna, who joined BJP last year, has got the BJP ticket from Sitarganj, and former BJP CM BC Khanduri’s daughter Ritu Bhushan is the BJP candidate for Yamkeshwar.

Then came the news that Punjab BJP president and Minister of State in the Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla too is very upset with the way tickets were distributed in the state. Dainik Jagran reported that Sampla wanted a ticket for his son Som Prakash, but this was denied by the party’s parliamentary board. Several reports suggested Sampla wanted to resign, which Sampla has denied on Tuesday afternoon. The feud comes when the SAD-BJP alliance government is already reeling from anti-incumbency in Punjab.

While the BJP has been gleefully watching from the sides as the Samajwadi Party was facing a split, the Akhilesh Yadav faction is now decisively in control the party name and symbol, and it’s the BJP which remains mired in multiple inner party fights. Who will have the last laugh, we will learn on March 11.

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