After party patriarch, L K Advani, another member of 'Mardarshak Mandal' of BJP Murli Manohar Joshi has been asked not to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
On Monday, the message to him was also conveyed by BJP's general secretary organisation Ram Lal, who had conveyed the same to Advani last week.
While BJP chief Amit Shah, who was the poll manager for Advani in Gandhinagar for umpteen times, has been fielded from the patriarch's seat Gandhinagar, the ticket for Kanpur is yet to be announced.
A three-line unsigned message in Joshi's name got circulated on social media, which is addressed to “Dear Voters of Kanpur” and reads “Shri Ramlal, General Secretary (Org.) Bharatiya Janata Party conveyed to me today that I should not contest the ensuing Parliamentary elections from Kanpur and elsewhere.”
Opposition parties were quick to latch on to the development to train guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Former Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said if this is true that Murli Manohar Joshi has been benched this is Narendra Modi's playback for the scathing Estimates Committee report that Joshi authored, which said India's defence spending as a percent of GDP is at pre-1962 level. “So much for chest thumping,” he said tagging the report and the three line letter issued in name of Joshi.
“After Advani, it's MM Joshi's turn to join the darshak Mandal from the Margdarshak Mandal to which Modi ji had consigned him,” tweeted lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan.
He also recalled Joshi as Chairman of the Standing Committee of Parliament on Estimates had asked the government about a list submitted by former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to the government about bank defaulters, who were running away. “Modi doesn't forgive,” Bhushan said.
Advani (91) and Joshi (85) also do not figure in the list of 40 party leaders who would be campaigning for BJP candidates in first two phases of elections in Uttar Pradesh.
After 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Advani, who had opposed Modi's elevation as BJP's face then Lok Sabha polls, was sent to Mardarshak Mandal with Joshi and some other veterans.
Joshi, who had to vacate his Parliamentary seat Varanasi for Modi in 2014, had won from Kanpur with a massive margin.
BJP's list of star campaigners for Lok Sabha in UP has the names of PM Modi, Shah, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti.
Swaraj and Bharti are also not contesting Lok Sabha polls in 2019. B C Khanduri, B S Koshiyari and Kariya Munda have also not got Lok Sabha ticket this time
Another ageing party veteran Kalraj Mishra, an MP from Deoria had publicly announced before tickets were announced that he would not like to contest 2019 polls. Former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar also announced withdrawing from the contest. No such remarks were made by either Advani or Joshi. It is learnt both refused to announce their retirement as desired by the party's top leadership.