Protests by BJP workers at Deendayal Bhawan, the Madhya Pradesh headquarters of the party, took a violent turn on Saturday after an effigy of an MLA was burnt and members clashed with office-bearers.
Almost forty men marched into the complex raising slogans against Narsinghgarh MLA Mohan Sharma. Mr. Sharma is expected to be renominated from the seat. When the activists tried to burn an effigy of Mr. Sharma, the office staff led by Office Secretary Alok Sanjar tried to intervene. Fisticuffs broke out in which both sides threw punches and tore clothes of each other in the full glare of TV cameras.
Sits on dharna
Later, a supporter, Narendra Sharma, took off his shirt and sat on a dharna. “I am a loyal soldier of the BJP and the RSS. My whole family has been in the RSS. Today I was beaten up and called a Congressman. We are trying to meet senior leaders since yesterday to tell them not to give Sharma a ticket as he has not worked and is a dictator who only promotes his family. If he is given a ticket again, we will ensure the party’s defeat,” he said.
Narendra and his band from Narsinghgarh were joined by other disgruntled BJP men from Damoh, protesting against Minister Jayant Malaiya.
Deendayal Bhawan has been seeing almost daily protests, all through October, by members of the RSS, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and the Kisan Morcha, besides BJP activists. Meetings over the selection of candidates for the next month Assembly elections have shifted to the Chief Minister’s residence in Shyamla Hills, which has a heavier deployment of police than the party office.
BJP Rajya Sabha member and strategist Prabhat Jha condemned the incident. “This is harmful for us. Such indiscipline is improper for the party. Unlike what is being reported, this resentment is only present in a few seats as expectations from the party have increased because it is in power. Like Chhattisgarh, you will see the situation calm down once we declare the candidates,” he told The Hindu.
Political analyst and columnist Chandrakant Naidu told this reporter that the exclusion of the former Chief Minister, Uma Bharti, from ticket distribution and blurring of the boundary between the party and the government had led to this. “Factionalism has been kept under wraps for a long time. With Uma being kept out, her supporters are naturally agitated and are creating problems.”
Ms. Bharti split from the BJP in 2006 to form the Bharatiya Janshakti Party that won five seats in the previous Assembly polls. The party merged into the BJP in 2011, but most of its MLAs fear they will not be renominated due to the rivalry between Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan and Ms. Bharti.
Mr. Naidu said, “Besides Uma, Prabhat Jha and [Minister] Kailash Vijayvargiya have their own supporters who are agitating over the arbitrary decisions on seats by Shivraj, [organisation general secretary] Arvind Menon and [State president] Narendra Tomar. There are objections to the CM also having an organisational role. The culture of violence promoted by the party has come back to haunt it.”