Atiq Khan

LUCKNOW: A divided Uttar Pradesh unit of the BJP was plunged into yet another crisis when almost its entire Lucknow city unit resigned on Saturday protesting against Amit Puri’s candidature in Lucknow West in the upcoming Assembly by-elections, likely to be held in November.

Considered to be a prestigious seat and a BJP stronghold, Lucknow West was vacated by senior leader Lalji Tandon, a close aide of the former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, following his election to the Lok Sabha from Lucknow in May. Party dissidents have supported the claims of Mr. Tandon’s son, Gopal Tandon, who was a strong contender for a ticket from Lucknow West.

The former MLA Ram Kumar Shukla and the former deputy mayor of Lucknow Abhay Seth were the other claimants for a nomination.

Mr. Puri’s candidature was announced by the central election committee of the BJP in New Delhi on Friday. The names of Rajesh “Guddu” Pandey from Padrauna and Ravi Sharma from Jhansi were also cleared .

The city unit president Pradeep Bhargava said around 600 office bearers and workers submitted their resignations to him today. The disgruntled party members held a meeting on Friday which continued till midnight, soon after Mr. Puri’s candidature was announced. Mr. Bhargava also put in his papers.

“The RSS nominee on the panel, Ram Lal, has been apprised of the development and the mass resignation papers would be submitted to the president of the State unit, Ramapati Ram Tripathi, after his return from Gorakhpur,” Mr. Bhargava told The Hindu. The group plans to demonstrate at the party headquarters here on Monday.

Besides Mr. Gopal Tandon being denied the ticket, what has irked the dissidents was the fact that Mr. Puri is an outsider and does not belong to the constituency. Most importantly, he is a former rebel who contested the 2002 Assembly polls as an Independent candidate from Lucknow East against the official BJP nominee. He had been expelled from the party.