Trying to woo back MP MLAs, BJP also gearing up for bypolls
Bhopal, July 28 (IANS) The BJP has not been able to overcome the desertion by two of its Madhya Pradesh MLAs who had cross-voted in favour of a government-sponsored Bill. The party is, however, looking beyond the loss to take on the ruling Congress.
Without giving up on efforts to woo these MLAs back, the party had sounded its workers to prepare for by-elections in Maihar and Beohari. Rebel MLAs, Narayan Tripathi (Maihar) and Sharad Kol (Beohari), are technically still with BJP but their return is very unlikely.
The BJP has avoided expelling them as it would set them free to choose their course, without formally joining the Congress besides cutting down the opposition numbers.
Tripathi reached Delhi on Saturday and hinted at resigning his seat to contest a by-election again, thus ruling out return to the BJP. Tripathi has represented Maihar five times under the banners of the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the BJP.
He won the 2013 assembly elections as a Congress candidate but left the party in 2015 to contest on a BJP ticket. But the BJP went back on its promise to offer him a ministerial berth. Kamal Nath, who met him in Delhi, finally persuaded him to return to the Congress.
Tripathi's return would help Kamal Nath counter state rivals Ajay Singh, Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia besides regaining support among the region's large Brahmin constituents. After the death of former Speaker Shrinivas Tiwari and his son Sunderlal, the Congress has failed to make an impact among Brahmins.
Scindia supporter Shrikant Chaturvedi has failed to earn substantial influence for the party. Ajay Singh, who has lost three major elections over the past three years, has consistently opposed Tripathi with active support from Digvijaya Singh
Meanwhile, BJP's Satna District President Narendra Tripathi met office-bearers at Maihar on Saturday. He said the workers in the area were still upbeat. The message from the local leaders was clear.
In Beohari, the BJP is recharging the organisation on the pretext of membership campaign. District President Inderjit Singh Chhabra said the party will teach a lesson to Kol who exploited the party's generosity. He said party members would wait for a word from the state leadership on by-elections.
Though both Tripathi and Kol are not on its radar, the BJP central leadership has "summoned them to appear before the general secretary in charge of the state".
The Central leadership has blamed state leaders for dereliction of duty in the wake of Lok Sabha triumph, where the party won 28 of the state's 29 seats. The local leaders had apparently overlooked brewing resentment among the workers and MLAs, and the Lok Sabha landslide led to complacency and factional fissures.
Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Leader of the Opposition Gopal Bhargava, former state President Prabhat Jha, national General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan have all been accused of working against the party's interests. Some organisational restructuring can't be ruled out.
The BJP has, in the meantime, accused the Congress of forging the signatures of MLAs to claim victory during the division of votes for the passage of a Bill on Wednesday. Bhargava said the party might take up the matter with new Governor Lalji Tandon who will take oath on Monday.
With the Congress still angling for bigger fish, the BJP's top leadership has called for a crucial meeting here on August 1. Senior state leaders, Central leaders and RSS representatives are expected to take part in the deliberations.