BJP’s seat scramble intensifies

More voices come out against the party’s undemocratic offering of tickets to Lok Sabha candidates
Hardnews Bureau Delhi

There seems to be no letup in the infighting that has gripped the BJP. Much of it is over senior leaders and PM aspirants scouting for safe seats. After a reportedly high-drama Parliamentary board meeting where Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj had expressed reservations on the ‘undemocratic’ working of the saffron party, now sitting MP from Lucknow Lalji Tandon has hinted that he may not be willing to make way for party President Rajnath Singh who is eyeing his seat.

“I have repeatedly said that neither Rajnath nor Modi have approached me. It’s true that even before Modi was made the party's PM candidate, I had said that I was ready to vacate my seat for Modi. I continue to hold on to that stand. But beyond that there has been no development,” Tandon reportedly said. However, in another statement to a news agency, he also mentioned that he has cordial relations with the party president and that he has not been told if some other name was under consideration. Former ally JD (U) leader K C Tyagi has criticised the undemocratic way the BJP is going about in distributing tickets. It seems he is speaking for many BJP leaders who may get dropped in the candidate list. 

Rajnath Singh, according to insiders, is keen to contest from Lucknow. Said to be an advocate of the so called ‘160 club’ within the BJP, Singh apparently feels that he may emerge to be the consensus candidate if BJP is restricted to 160 odd seats and the allies do not agree on Modi’s candidature. It is in this context that the sitting MP from Ghaziabad is looking at Lucknow as a ‘safe option’, for not only has it been a BJP stronghold, it also carries the symbolism as former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee’s constituency.

Meanwhile, the party is also facing trouble trying to get another senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi to shift to Kanpur. Insiders say that the party’s PM candidate Narendra Modi wants to contest from Varanasi, a seat represented by Joshi in the Lower House. The RSS too had said that it was worried about reports of infighting over the Varanasi seat. Joshi himself downplayed the rift. In a press conference held at his residence on Sunday, the veteran BJP leader said that “he would accept the party’s decision as a disciplined soldier,” while adding that he hoped that it won’t hurt “Modi’s prestige” or the party’s chances in the elections.