A day after the Election Commission announced seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, more than half-a-dozen sitting BJP MPs, including Union Ministers in Bihar, are unsure about getting the party ticket this time.
A senior BJP leader, who refused to be identified, said some party MPs may not get a chance to contest polls again this time. “Taking anti-incumbency as well as winnability factor into consideration, the party is likely to deny ticket to some sitting MPs to contest polls,” he said. There are 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
Sources in the BJP as well as its alliance partner the JD-U say the saffron party is ready to sacrifice some of its sitting MPs to keep JD-U’s Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, happy. The BJP has already agreed to give two-three of its share of 22 seats to the JD-U, besides one to the LJP, another ally.
There had been buzz in political circles since BJP President Amit Shah announced in Delhi in January that the BJP and JD-U will contest an equal number of Lok Sabha seats in Bihar under a seat-sharing formula. This signalled that the party was set to deny tickets to about half-a-dozen sitting MPs.
With Amit Shah’s deciding not to play “big-brother” in Bihar, the BJP will have to compromise, said a JD-U leader.
According to BJP sources here, there is confusion over ticket to party MP from Ara and Union Ministers R.K. Singh, pary MP from Buxar and Union Minister Ashwani Choubey, MP from Patliputra and Union Minister Ramkirpal Yadav and party MP from Nawada and Union Minister Giriraj Singh.
The BJP has agreed to give Ara seat to JD-U and Nawada to LJP in lieu of adjusting JD-U in Munger seat.
JD-U leader and former MP Meena Singh is set to contest from Ara as she has been asked by the party to start the ground work. Similarly, LJP’s sitting MP from Munger, Veena Devi, has already reportedly started her campaign in Nawada after it was decided that JD-U will contest from Munger.
Union Minister Ramkirpal Yadav is not sure about getting a party ticket again as his seat is likely to be given to the JD-U. Same is the case with another Union minister Aswani Choubey from Buxar as the party has dropped enough hints to shift him to his old stronghold of Bhagalpur seat.
The BJP may also deny ticket to the party’s sitting MP from Saran, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a former Union Minister, and also to sitting party MP from Maharajganj, Janardgan Singh Sigriwal.
Prominent disgruntled sitting BJP MPs include Bollywood actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who is unlikely to get ticket from Patna Saheb in Patna, his home district. Similarly, cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Jha Azad, who was a sitting BJP MP from Darbhanga, has joined Congress.
There are a few BJP sitting MPs from Sasaram, Valmikinagar, Jhanjarpur, and Muzaffarpur who are also not sure about getting the ticket again. These seats are like to go to the JD-U this time under the seat-sharing formula. All these seats are traditionally JD-U stronghold in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls when BJP was a junior partner of the JD-U.
“The BJP has no option. It has to sacrifice its 5-6 sitting MPs to enable the JD-U to contest an equal number of seats,” said a senior BJP leader.
According to the seat-sharing formula, the BJP and the JD-U will contest 17 seats each, while the remaining six seats will go to the Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP.
The BJP contested 30 seats in 2014 and won 22 seats.
In 2014, the Janata Dal-United contested on its own but performed poorly. It won only two seats – Purnea and Nalanda, giving a big setback to Nitish Kumar.
Senior JD-U leader and party spokesperson Neeeaj Kumar pointed that Nitish Kumar has again proved that he is the face of NDA in Bihar and that he will be the leader.
“Our opponents had said that the BJP would not give more than 8 Lok Sabha seats to JD-U in 2019 on the ground that the party had won only 2 seats in 2014 elections,” said Neeraj.
“The NDA is now working to win all the 40 seats in Bihar,” he added.