BJP In Turmoil Over Advani, Joshi But Shatrughan Sinha Refuses to Bite the Dust, Prepares to Join Congress
Process of marginalisation seen as humilation by BJP seniors #TCVotes
NEW DELHI: Of the group of senior BJP leaders, sidelined and often humiliated in the party, at least one has refused to bite the dust. Filmstar and MP Shatrughan Sinha left the BJP when he could not take it any more, and now is preparing to take a second plunge by joining the Congress party next week.
The BJP has fielded Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad from Patna Sahib, from where Sinha is the sitting MP and had won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with 55 per cent of the mandate. He is likely to contest this seat again as the Congress candidate, although a confirmation is still awaited.
The manner in which the senior leaders of the party have been humiliated this time has created a stir within the BJP. Former deputy prime minister L.K.Advani who devoted his entire life to building the BJP came to know that he had been dropped only after Amit Shah had been fielded as the official candidate from Gandhinagar. Sources close to Advani told select reporters that the veteran leader had been given no idea, and was upset that Shah did not have the courtesy to inform him before hand. Advani has held Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat since 1998, not having lost a single Lok Sabha election from here since.
Former Minister and senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi who along with Advani had played a key role in building the BJP, more so since 1992 when the Babri Masjid was demolished, was also dropped by the PM and Shah. He was first made to vacate the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat for PM Modi in the 2014 polls, and shifted to Kanpur instead. This time around Joshi was denied Kanpur altogether and confirmed this with a letter to his voters saying that he had been told not to contest. The two line letter makes it clear, by what it does not say, that Joshi was not given a choice in the matter.
Former Minister Yashwant Sinha is keeping his cards, if any, close to his chest. Amidst rumours that he might contest the elections from Hazaribagh, his old parliamentary constituency, he made it clear to The Citizen that he was not thinking on any such lines. He said that no one had asked him to contest. This rumour came along with speculation that Advani and Joshi might both be persuaded to contest the polls from their respective seats as a statement against the present leadership. However, well placed sources said that there was no question of this, as neither of the two leaders would ever defy the party diktat in this manner. They are too disciplined, the sources added admitting that while there was a “bit of a stir now, it would die down. They might both be given seats in the Rajya Sabha.”
Senior leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party are being cut to size on one pretext or another ever since the regime change in 2014. While some of them were dropped from the cabinet altogether, others were denied tickets, and the rest made Governors.
While Kalraj Mishra,Shanta Kumar,Kariya Munda,Bhuvan Chandra Khandori,the sitting Lok Sabha members are not in the good books of the party high command,Kirti Azad, Shatrughan Sinha were forced to leave the party altogether.
Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharati who were promoted and made chief ministers of Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, by L K Advani , announced well before the lists were prepared for these Lok Sabha elections that they will not contest. No attempt was made to persuade them either, with sources pointing out that their decision rested in the knowledge that they would not be given tickets by PM Modi this time around.
Senior Lok Sabha member and former Union minister Ramesh Bais (Chhattisgqarh) has been denied anomination.
Former Madhya Pradesh chief Babulal Gaur and current Rajya Sabha member Dr C P Thakur have been sidelined in the party.Former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari who is also the sitting Lok Sabha member from Nainital-Udhamsighnagar is hanging on the periphery without access to the present BJP top brass.
Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon were once powerful leaders of the party in Uttar Pradesh. But Lalji Tandon was made a Governor under PM Modi and Kalraj Mishra dropped from the Unioni cabinet without any convincing reason. Both were close to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani, and were not seen as sufficiently loyal by the new men in power.
Kalyan Singh,another powerful leader of Uttar Pradesh is the Governor of Rajasthan. And is so worried about his future in the BJP that he went out of his way, violating the rules of his post, to praise Prime Minister Narendra Modi and predict his victory in the forthcoming elections.
Eknath Khadse, the OBC face of the party in Maharashtra who had expanded the BJP along with late Gopinath Munde ,is in the political wilderness ever since he undermined chief minister Devendra Fadnavis,the protege of Modi and Shah.
Party insiders concede privately the dominance of two leaders and predicted that former chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan,Vasundhara Raje and Dr Raman Singh would also be cut to size systematically in the coming days if Modi returned to power with a good majority. The three chief ministers were never close to Modi and Shah, seen by them as being more loyal to the RSS.