Chatra: BJP’s indecision fuels factionalism

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New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Of the 14 Jharkhand Lok Sabha constituencies, three – Chatra, Loherdaga and Palamu – will vote on April 29, the first phase of elections in the state. Still, the much-coveted, Chatra is sticking out like a sore thumb for the Baharatiya Janata Party. The state unit of the party has failed to recommend a “winning candidate” for the seat.

In the absence of clarity and given the paucity of time, reports of trouble brewing in the Chatra unit of BJP are emerging. During the Sankalp Sabha in Chatra on March 26, Amar Kumar Bauri, state Tourism Minister, had to endure the protests by the BJP workers.

Likewise, the petition signed by over 40 Chatra BJP workers against giving the party ticket to the new entrants was leaked to the media. “Though BJP will win Chatra, there is apprehension among the party workers that leaders who have joined the party recently will be given the ticket from the constituency. The uncertainty is giving way to factionalism. That’s why our internal communication that we had sent to our party president was leaked though we are sure everything will be sorted out soon,” said Alok Kumar Sharma, BJP president Chatra.

The BJP insiders say at the root of the problem is the sitting but unpopular Member of Parliament Sunil Singh, who is “mired in controversies”. The party is looking to replace him. Sensing an opening many from within the ranks of the party have staked their claims. While the incumbent MP is still a probable being son-of-the-soil, Sudesh Verma, a member of the BJP national media team, is emerging as a popular choice among the party workers and survey reports.

New entrants in the party are another factor because of which Chatra is still an open case. During the last fortnight, many leaders of various parties, all hopeful of getting a ticket, have joined the BJP and have added to the problems for the party. Among those who joined BJP recently, Annapurna Devi, Girinath Singh and Neelam Singh are vying for the BJP ticket from Chatra.

The BJP’s Chatra district unit has also thrown a spanner in the works. The district unit wants nomination for a local BJP leader. “The party has never fielded a local candidate in Chatra for Lok Sabha elections. Also, possibility of a new entrant being given the ticket in our constituency is also adding to the resentment among the cadre. This had led to a protest during the recently concluded Sankalp Sabha in Chatra. We want a local BJP worker to be given the ticket. But the state election committee has so far failed to address our concerns. We have taken it up with the central election committee,” says Sunil Singh, member of the BJP’s Chatra chapter.

On their part, the BJP’s state election committee authorized a three-member panel, which includes Raghubar Das, state president Laxman Gilua and general secretary organisation Dharampal Singh, maintain that they have already submitted the list of probable candidates to the central election committee. However, none confirmed the name of the candidate from Chatra.

When contacted, Mangal Pandey, BJP in-charge of Lok Sabha elections in Jharkhand, maintained that the process of selecting the Lok Sabha candidates for the still-to-be-declared seats in Jharkhand is under way. “The Central election committee will soon decide the candidates,” said Pandey.

The BJP announced candidates for 10 out of 13 seats it is contesting in Jharkhand on March 23, but withheld the names of candidates for Ranchi, Kodarma and Chatra. While voting for both Ranchi and Kodarma is scheduled for May 6, Chatra is party’s immediate concern as it votes on April 29.

(Vijay Krishna can be contacted at [email protected])



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