Internal divide over tickets may dent BJP’s prospects

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Party rebels Workers protest as BJP fields more than 100 candidates who are either turned coats or kith and kin of its leaders

Despite initial gains, Bhartiya Janta Party in Uttar Pradesh somehow is failing to maintain the same pitch of high ideals set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who apparently maintained the image of “Nation First”, insulating himself from his entire family, keeping them away from politics, who could influence him to the materialistic world of allurement. Unfortunately, his fellow party heavyweight top leaders from Uttar Pradesh have made mockery of his sacrifices.

BJP president Amit Shah had no choice but to succumb to their pressure to allow their kith and kin and close associates to contest assembly elections as party nominees. The “Family First” syndrome has caused distraction among the rank and file of disciplined party cadre who are shocked and agitated over the manner ticket distribution benefited prominent party leaders, turned coats and new comers who overtook the guanine claims dedicated workers who worked hard for the party all these years.

Modi flaunted in his address to nation, “Man Ki Baat” about his detachment over material riches, claiming that he is like a “Fakir” who puts “Nation First” and is so dispassionate that he will have no hesitations to walk away with a just bag anytime. And the core of his detachment from material possessions is the notion that he doesn’t need to earn money to support his family.

He has also stated more than once, that he is not a family man and works for the people of India. It’s a stick he often uses to beat his opponents who have their kith and kin active in politics of power, but as the UP goes to polls, his party leaders have belittled him just for the sake of fulfilling their selfish narrow goals to see their nears and dears to contest elections, overlooking the claims of hundreds of its hardcore grassroots supporters who struggled to build up party fortunes.

BJP has fielded more than 100 such candidates who are either turned coats or kith and kin of its leaders. This step has invoked angry reactions as protests broke out at BJP state office and its District offices. Even in the heart of temple movement, Ayodhya, angry BJP workers tied the hands of its member of parliament Lallu Singh, old time RSS worker and Faizabad District chief Awadhesh Pandey and held them hostage for hours for registering their token protest against party ticket to one Ved Gupta who was till recently was in BSP and contested 2012 election as its candidate.

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A few candidates who come from well-known political families

Sandeep Singh (Grandson of Kalyan Singh): Atrauli
Youngest face of BJP Sandeep Singh, 25, has been born and brought up in political atmosphere as his grandfather Kalyan Singh is one of the stalwart leader of BJP and demolition of Babri Mosque has been taken place when he was chief minister of UP in 1992. Presently he is Governor of Rajasthan.

His son Rajveer Singh is Member of Parliament and daughter-in-law Premlata is also very active in local politics. Fifty years on, Kalyan’s grandson Sandeep is going village to village in Atrauli seeking votes and invoking the legacy of his grandfather, the two-time UP CM and 10-time MLA from Atrauli in his 35 years long political career. Sandeep was in England till last year for completing his Master’s from Leeds University. Now he will carry forward the legacy of Kalyan Singh who is popularly called by one and all
as “Babuji.”

Pankaj Singh (son of Rajnath Singh): Noida
Pankaj Singh, the eldest son of Home minister Rajnath Singh, will be making his debut in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. He wanted to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but was not fielded by BJP, and had been denied a ticket twice. He is the General Secretary-BJP, Uttar Pradesh and has been active in politics since 2002.

Mriganaka Singh (daughter of Hukum Singh): Kairana
Mriganka doesn’t have any political experience, while her father Hukum Singh was accused of consolidating Hindu votes last year to benefit his daughter’s debut in 2017. Hukum Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Kairana. He was a part of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly for seven terms, and has also served as Cabinet Minister in Uttar Pradesh government under both BJP and Congress regimes.
BJP leader Anil Chauhan quit the party last week protesting against Mriganaka’s candidature.

Kunwar Sushant Singh (son of Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar Singh) :Barhapur
Belonging to a royal family, Sushant Singh’s father Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar Singh and grandfather Raja Rampal Singh have also been MLAs from Thakurdwara. Sarvesh Singh is currently the sitting BJP MP of Moradabad, while Rampal Singh was once a Congress MP from Amroha.

Prateek Bhushan (son of Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh): Gonda
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh’s son Prateek Bhushan will be contesting UP elections 2017 from Gonda. His father has been a two time Lok Sabha MP from Gonda constituency, and is currently representing Kaiserganj in Lok Sabha. Brij Bhushan Singh was also in Samajwadi Party, but he rejoined BJP before 16th Lok Sabha elections.

Utkarsh Maurya (son of Swami Prasad Maurya): Unchahar
Deserting BSP chief Mayawati just a few moth ago, Swami Prasad Maurya had managed a BJP ticket for his son Utkarsh Maurya from Unchahar again as last time as a BSP candidate in 2012 he lost to Manoj Kumar Pandey. He has served four terms as a member of Legislative Assembly and has also been a prominent minister in BSP government. He currently represents Padrauna constituency in the Assembly from where he is now seeking reelection on BJP ticket.

Neelima Katiyar (daughter of Premlata Katiyar): Kalyanpur
Former Minister and prominent OBC women leader of BJP Premlata Katiyar became successful in securing ticket for her daughter Neelima Katiyar from Kalyanpur seat of Kanpur. Her daughter was active in party activities all these years.

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Agitated workers also protested at state party office in front of Vidhan Sabha and burnt the effigy of state president Keshav Prasad Mourya. The in-fight of BJP over ticket distribution saw anger among cadre of its committed workers as it amount deviation and compromise from its principles for the sake of power. The BJP’s list of candidates consist the names of family members of prominent politicians including Governor Rajasthan Kalyan Singh, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, former state BJP president Om Prakash Singh, MLA Jyotsna Srivastav, MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, MP Hukum Singh, Swami Prasad Mourya, Premlata Katiyar, MP Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar Singh, MP Kamlesh Paswan, MP Ravindra Kushwaha, Former MP Ramakant Yadav and MP Yogi Aditya Nath. Source confided that beside its top leaders at least three dozen party MPs and several other leaders have lobbied hard to get tickets for their relatives. In the process of bargain former state chief of Congress Rita Bahuguna Joshi, BSP’s former deputy leader of Rajya Sabha Brajesh Pathak secured BJP ticket from Lucknow Cantonment and Central. SP deserter Kuldeep Singh Senger successfully switch his loyalty to BJP and got ticket from Bhagwant Nagar, Unnao.

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Saving bid Party workers seek to save BJP from the in-fight erupted over ticket distribution

Not just in Uttar Pradesh, but in Uttarakhand also, several prominent leaders and their kin have been managed tickets, which includes Yashpal Arya and his son Sanjeev, Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saurabh, BC Khanduri’s daughter Ritu, Munna Singh Chauhan’s wife Madhu and Narayan Singh Rana, who is closed to Rajnath Singh. In Uttrakhand most of the congress leaders turned hostile and accommodated in BJP making its cadre disillusioned. Modi took a jibe during his 2014 electioneering urging the voters to dump “maa-bete ki sarkaar” but now with his party infected with the same syndrome. It would be difficult for him to attack his opponent on such count. UP is an important state for the BJP since it had managed to secure 73 of 80 Lok Sabha seats from UP in 2014, but despite playing caste chemistry, non-Yadav OBC card and importing over 100 outsider candidates, who recently joined BJP, nobody is sure whether they could be able to hoist saffron flag over the state in the Assembly with the same intensity?

Despite ticket row in the party, UP is an important state for the BJP since it had secured 73 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 from here

The jittery in the party leadership could be gauged as state president who just after assuming the charge of the party preferred to sideline the issue of Ram temple in Ayodhya and announced that the development would be the main poll plank of the party. But now as the elections approaching close he shifted his focus. Now he has started raking up Ram temple issue. He told, on 25th January, 2017, just before kickoff of campaigning in first phase, that Ram temple would be built if BJP comes to power in the state, although the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

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