Eyes on sulking BJP seniors as Sumitra too opts out

Eyes on sulking BJP seniors as Sumitra too opts out

Sumitra Mahajan. PTI file photo

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday opted out of contesting the Lok Sabha elections citing hesitation in the BJP to name the candidate in Indore, a seat she represented since 1989, even as all eyes are now on the sulking senior party leaders.

Mahajan's public statement came a day after veteran leader L K Advani surprised the BJP ranks with a not-so-subtle message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah and Murli Manohar Joshi's terse statement earlier about a message from the party leadership that he should not seek re-election from Kanpur.

In the statement, the eight-term MP who also served in the A B Vajpayee government said, "possibly the party is hesitating to take a decision. I had discussed this issue with senior party leaders and left it to them to take an appropriate decision. It seems they still have some doubts in their mind. So I declare that I do not wish to contest the Lok Sabha elections."

Mahajan, who will be 76 on April 12, said it is in this context that she was announcing that she is not contesting the elections this time so that the party is free to "take the decision without any hesitation".

While the BJP has announced candidates for several seats in Madhya Pradesh, Indore is among a couple of seats in which the party has not announced candidates. There were speculation about the fate of Mahajan's candidature.

In the December Assembly elections, BJP had overlooked Mahajan's claims for a seat for her son Mandar while it had then accommodated party national General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s son Akash. Mahajan and Vijayvargiya compete with each other for the hold over Indore.

While Mahajan has come out with a crafty statement that could be interpreted both ways, it is to be seen whether she would join the sulking brigade. The equation may change if the party decide to accommodate Mandar in the Lok Sabha elections.

So far, only Advani and Joshi have come out with their unhappiness even as there was a report about the Opposition approaching Joshi to contest as a joint Opposition candidate against Modi. Joshi had reportedly not keen on such symbolic fights and instead suggested that he fielded from somewhere else.

Both these leaders are upset with the top leadership over the way they were treated by Modi or Shah. They are angry that the duo did not bother to convey directly that the leadership does not want them to contest and instead sent BJP General Secretary Organisation (Organisation) Ram Lal to pass on the message.

Earlier, Union Minister Kalraj Mishra, who falls in the 75-plus group, had opted out of the contest. Senior MP Shantakumar also did the same while Union Minister Uma Bharti said she will skip this time but will contest the 2024 polls.

Shah had recently said that it was his party's decision not to give Lok Sabha poll tickets to those above 75 years of age, leading to veteran leaders like L K Advani and Murali Manohar Joshi missing out.