Even as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari is preparing to retain the top post, his authority within the organisation was challenged successfully by parliamentary party members, upset with the decision to support Anshuman Mishra, an independent candidate for the Rajya Sabha election in Jharkhand.
Led by seniors L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, and Yashwant Sinha, they were annoyed after it came to light that the party would not renominate deputy leader S S Ahluwalia for the House from Jharkhand and would instead back Mishra, a resident in the US, whose brother is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha had alleged that party MLAs in Jharkhand were being auctioned to the highest bidder.
“The BJP categorically states that no MLA of the party shall vote for Independent candidate Anshuman Mishra. In view of the large-scale horse trading and malpractices going on in the Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand, the BJP has decided that its MLAs will abstain from voting in the elections scheduled on March 30,” said Ananth Kumar, party general secretary, in a statement.
Presumably as a consequence, Mishra decided not to contest the election on Thursday. “I will withdraw my nomination,” he told a report in Ranchi.
In another major setback for the BJP, in Karnataka, the party has lost the bypoll in the Lok Sabha constituency of Udupi-Chikmagalur. It was not just a stronghold but also the seat of chief minister
D V Sadananda Gowda, who had resigned from it after taking charge of the state government from B S Yeddyurappa. The BJP candidate lost by 45,000 votes, the first election lost by the BJP since it came to power in the state.
Meanwhile, bowing to pressure from Yeddyurappa, who was threatening to split the party in the state, the BJP has decided to reinstate him as CM after the Budget session is over in early April. Yeddyurappa was replaced by Gowda after Lokayukta investigations levelled corruption charges against him. The Karnataka High Court cleared Yeddyurappa of corruption charges but the BJP leadership led by Gadkari didn’t want to reinstate him at the top post. However, Yeddyurappa, with the support 72 MLAs, has forced the party to change its decision.
The third setback for the BJP has come in Gujarat, where the party has lost the Mansa Assembly seat, close to Gandhinagar, for the first time since 1995. Mansa was the seat of Mangaldas Patel, who was speaker of the state Assembly. The bypoll was necessitated after the seat fell vacant following his death.