Vetoing Sushma, party nominates Sriramulu
Overruling senior leader Sushma Swaraj’s objections, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday decided to field controversial Karnataka ticket aspirant B. Sriramulu as its candidate from Bellary, even as differences continued over the crucial Uttar Pradesh seats of Ghaziabad, Lucknow and Varanasi.
Ms. Swaraj objected to the party inducting Mr. Sriramulu, a confidant of the Reddy brothers who quit the BJP after their arrest in a mining scam in Bellary.
Bringing out the bickering over the U.P. seats, the party’s Dalit leader, Sangh Priya Gautam, said leaders trying to move from their existing constituencies would send wrong signals and weaken the ‘Modi wave’.
Mr. Gautam told reporters that party president Rajnath Singh should contest from Ghaziabad and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi should be fielded from Gujarat.
Sources said Mr. Singh wanted to shift to Lucknow while Mr. Modi was eyeing veteran Murli Manohar Joshi’s Varanasi seat.
The party’s Central Election Committee, meanwhile, finalised the names of Shahnawaz Hussain, who would be renominated in Bhagalpur, and Jayant Sinha, son of sitting MP Yashwant Sinha, who would contest from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. Mr. Yashwant Sinha has opted out of electoral politics.
The other candidates are Ramkripal Yadav, a former Lalu Prasad aide (Patliputra), S.S. Ahluwalia (Darjeeling) and the former Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh (Ara).
BJP defers U.P., Gujarat list
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj is being repeated in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Among the candidates finalised by the party’s Central Election Committee here on Thursday are Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the former Union Minister, Pramod Mahajan, from Mumbai (North Central), Kirit Azad from his existing constituency of Darbhanga and Rajiv Pratap Rudy from Saran.
Even as the party’s Gujarat announced that Mr. Modi will be contesting one seat from his home State, the Committee put on hold the decision to finalise names from the crucial States of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. Mr. Modi is expected to contest a second seat from U.P. or from Patna Sahib in Bihar from where the sitting MP Shatrughan Sinha may be shifted.
Senior leader Ananth Kumar said that Patna Sahib seat would be decided after consultation with Mr. Sinha.
Amid speculation that the list for U.P and Gujarat has been delayed on account of serious differences among leaders, the Committee and heads of various State units, meeting at the BJP headquarters, finalised 100 candidates for 12 States — Assam, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, Lakshwadweep, Haryana. Maharashtra and Manipur.
Informed sources said the party was likely to announce the candidates for U.P., Chhattisgarh and Delhi on March 15. The delay in naming candidates has been due to disagreements between the party brass and the cadres and also owing to a dearth of “winnable” candidates who will help the BJP achieve the target of 272+.
Even though Gujarat will come up for discussion after March 17; the Committee is considering fielding party patriarch L.K. Advani from Bhopal instead of his existing constituency of Gandhinagar. Senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister, Kilash Joshi, recently announced that he wanted to opt out.
In the backdrop of several leaders, including sitting MP from Lucknow, Lalji Tandon offering their seat for Mr. Modi, a section of leaders has voiced concern over displacing sitting MPs. BJP’s Dalit leader Sangh Priya Gautam said that leaders trying to move from their sitting seats would send the wrong signals and weaken the 'Modi wave' that the BJP claims is sweeping across the country.
In the report headlined “BJP still bickering over U.P.” published on March 14, a reference to “...the wanted former Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh (Ara)” was erroneous. There are no charges whatsoever against Mr. Singh, and he is not “wanted.” The error, caused during editing, is regretted.