Denied nomination, another BJP veteran revolts

Denied nomination, another BJP veteran revolts

The spotlight might be on Varanasi since Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, intends to contest the polls from there.

But in Bihar’s Buxar constituency, which shares a border with Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Lalmuni Choubey, a veteran Brahmin leader of the BJP, who has been a four-term MP and three-term MLA from Buxar, has revolted against the party leadership for denying him ticket and fielding rank outsider Ashwani Choubey.

Lalmuni, a close aide of BJP veterans Vajpayee and Advani, has vowed to teach the saffron party a lesson by contesting as an independent. He won this seat four consecutive times from 1996 to 2004. But he lost in 2009 to RJD’s Jagdanand Singh by a slender margin of 2,000 votes.

Interestingly, debutant Ashwani literally fell at Lalmuni’s feet before filing his nomination papers as the BJP nominee and pleaded with the latter not to contest against him as an independent.

But septuagenarian Lalmuni, who was Bihar’s health minister in the 70s, didn’t yield and instead hit out at the party’s new leadership.

“Rajnath Singh has actually become the president of slaves… The party’s founding fathers like A B Vajpayee, L K Advani and Jaswant Singh are all alive. But look at the way the present leadership is treating the seniors. I am not going to take this humiliation lying down,” he said.

Senior BJP leaders including Sushil Modi and party’s in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan tried their best to pacify Lalmuni, but to no avail. BJP insiders insist that there is clear division in the party with upper castes – Brahmins and Bhumihars – who deserted the Congress and shifted their allegiance towards the BJP in 90s –  increasingly being marginalised.