DAINIK NATION BUREAU
State BJP leaders especially who were denied ticket to facilitate the newly joined BJP leaders in 13 assembly constituencies, the state party brass is a worried lot. On condition of anonymity BJP leaders say that with a wave lacking this time like what they witnessed during general election-2014, if the dissidents contest as an independent, they are likely to eat substantially into the saffron votes, either reducing the margins or marring the prospects of the party candidates. They say that as the margins are low between the victorious and the defeated candidates in most of the constituencies in the 2012 election the dissidents might pose a grave threat to the prospects of the BJP candidates. Things are all the more ominous, as in some constituencies where BJP was triumphant in the 2012 election; they won by wafer thin margins. “We are really worried. Moreover, the dissidents might form a group and contest, claiming it to be the real BJP, a prospect that cannot help scaring us,” said a state BJP leader, requesting anonymity.
Notable among those who are in a state of rage is none other than the former state BJP president and sitting MLA from Choubattakhal seat in Pauri district Teerath Singh Rawat. He lost the race after the party’s national leadership favoured Satpal Maharaj who joined the party just ahead of the 2014 general election for the seat.
Similar is the case with the Yamkeshwar MLA Vijaya Berthwal who was denied re-nomination with the daughter of the former chief minister BC Khanduri, Ritu Bhushan Khanduri being favoured with the ticket. She already declared that she would not give up the fight. she threatened to throw her hat in the ring as an Independent to make the going tough for the BJP candidate from the seat. EX MLA from Kotdwar Shailendra Singh Rawat who has been deprived of the ticket for the second consecutive term is also angry. Notably, during the 2012 election, he was denied to pave way for the party’s CM face Gen Khanduri to step in. However, Gen Khanduri had to bite the dust, jeopardising BJP’s prospects to form the government after the election threw a hung Assembly. Though expectantly waiting to be nominated this time, Rawat was kept at bay again as the former Congress rebel Harak Singh Rawat was roped in as the party’s candidate. He has been breathing fire since the day the first list was announced, charging the party with betrayal. He said he had been let down again despite the party leadership having committed to give him ticket during the next election when he was made to bow out to help Gen Khanduri to step in during the 2012 election.
The senior party leader from Uttarakashi district, Surat Ram Nautiyal, on being denied ticket with the party bestowing ‘takal’ nomination on the fresh inductee from Congress Kedar Singh Rawat, raised the flag of revolt and convened a Mahapanchayat where those in attendance decided to vote for Nautiyal in case he chooses to contest. Notably, Rawat joined BJP along with the state cabinet minister Yashpal Arya and his son Sanjeev Arya a few hours before the party’s first list was announced.
Things for the saffron camp look bad in Tehri district too. The old horse of the party and former MLA from high-voltage Narendranagar seat Omgopal who held the fort for BJP for many years is all set to contest against the former Congress rebel Subodh Uniyal who later switched to BJP along with eight others. Uniyal has been given the ticket with Omgopal being left in the lurch. Observers say that the going would be tough for Uniyal who won the seat during the 2012 election with not so impressive margin. Fire is smouldering too in Dhanaulty where the sitting MLA Mahaveer Singh Rangad was denied ticket. He is also rallying support behind him to give the BJP candidate a run for his money.
In Roorkee too, former MLA Suresh Jain who lost the race to the new entrant Pradeep Batra, another former Congress rebel, already announced that he would try his luck from the same seat to turn things difficult for BJP. Resentment is brewing too in Bhagwanpur seat in Haridwar district where Subodh Rakesh, brother of the deceased minister Surendra Rakesh who joined BJP a few months ago, was given ticket, dashing the hopes of the other ticket hopefuls who had held the party’s flag aloft in the face of the sustained Congress onslaught. In Khanpur too, the old-timers are furious over another former Congress rebel Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion being foisted on them as the candidate.
In Udham Singh Nagar, BJP brass has foisted new inductees as the contestants in three seats- Jaspur, Bazpur and Sitarganj. They were represented by the Congress MLAs – Dr Shailendra Mohan Singhal, Yashpal Arya and former CM Vijay Bahuguna respectively. The trio had revolted against the chief minister Harish Rawat and switched to BJP later. This time too, Singhal and Arya have been retained for Jaspur and Bazpur seats asBJP candidates while Bahuguna’s son Saurabh has been given ticket for Sitarganj seat. The BJP leaders and the functionaries are heaving with rage over this development.
In Chamoli district, with Magan Lal Shah from Tharali, Surendra Singh Negi from Karnprayag and Mahendra Bhatt from Badrinath constituencies being in the contest as the BJP nominees, the former two- time MLA from Tharali G L Shah and the former MLA from Karnprayag Anil Nautiyal have announced to contest election as Independents.
In Dehradun too, things are on the boil with an ‘outsider’ Khazan Das, a former MLA from Dhanaulti, being foisted on Rajpur Road seat (SC) seat. The rank and file of the party is vowing to teach the party a lesson for betraying them with the imposition of an ‘outsider’.
Those who have been denied tickets have reasons to worry. They know, given their vast experiences, that in case they are out of the legislative politics for one/two terms they are likely to be reduced to non- entities with shadows hovering over the future of their political careers.
Observers say that despite BJP flaunting confidence to romp to power riding on the ingeniously crafted candidates list, deeper down, they are not so sure. “BJP being a regimented party with a distinctive ideology remaining its fount, entry of so many fresh inductees from Congress in the candidates’ list augurs ill for the party as far as the maintenance of its ideological purity is concerned. And this is what the rebels are choosing to harp on, claiming they are representing the real face of BJP with the official BJP being reduced to a spurious entity, shorn of identity,” says an observer.
As things stand now, the party high command is on a watch and wait mode, while asking the party’s state brass to put out the embers of revolt before they engulf the party in a conflagration, a prospect that the rival Congress is awaiting with bated breath while keeping on hold its list of the nominees.