Electoral usefulness, apart from loyalty and caste equation in their respective states, was what the BJP leadership looked into while selecting candidates for the Rajya Sabha. The list included some “lightweight” individuals.
The list of 18 candidates which the BJP is sure will win the elections to the Upper House scheduled for 23 March, does not include names like Sudhanshu Trivedi, Sambit Patra, Ram Madhav, Laxmikant Bajpai and Shahnawaz Hussain although the supporters of these leaders had batted aggressively for them before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, who finalised the list.
Senior party sources said that the Modi-Shah duo were preparing the next generation of leaders and moving from the Advani-era leaders.
“Some of these new names are in fact ‘lightweight’ in terms of experience but that cannot take away their talent and loyalty. We need a mix of people in the RS and that’s what the top leadership has tried for. Some of those who have missed out will naturally feel upset but the party cannot make everyone happy at the same time,” a senior RS member of the BJP said.
The leader accepted that there was a certain level of discontent among the party workers in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh because many outsiders were being sent to the RS from these states.
“This is natural. A party leader based in Lucknow, who has been working for the party for 20 years, will definitely feel bad if an outsider or a virtually unknown leader, whom the local workers cannot even meet after the elections get over, will be going to RS due to their efforts. However, this is something that has been going on for long and as of now nothing much can be done unless the party leadership decides to take a call on this,” the leader added.
As per an RSS functionary based in an eastern state, there was a visible discontent among the party workers on the choice of the leaders that were nominated by the party leadership from UP. “There is a feeling that either the party should send these leaders to RS from their own state or ask them to contest the Lok Sabha elections if they are so popular in their states,” the functionary added.
The BJP’s list includes UP based leaders Ashok Bajpai and Harnath Singh Yadav, who till very recently, were prominent faces of the Samajwadi Party.
The so called “junior functionaries” like G.V.L. Narasimha Rao; Anil Baluni, who heads the media department of the BJP; and Anil Jain, who rose in the party hierarchy after starting as an RSS pracharak, are known for their close ties with Amit Shah.
Rao, who is from Andhra Pradesh, was preferred over D. Purandeswari, head of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha and daughter of N.T. Rama Rao, the founder of the Telugu Desam Party. Purandeswari is also the sister-in-law of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. Party sources said that Rao’s name was forwarded to Amit Shah by the Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu.
The other “seniors”, who were expecting a nomination, but were ignored include national general secretary Arun Singh, who is Rajnath’s saadhu brother-in-law and Ajay Sancheti, who was being supported by Nitin Gadkari.
Sudhanshu Trivedi, who is close to Home Minister Rajnath Singh was also ignored.
The party also did not select Ram Madhav despite the BJP registering historic wins in the North-Eastern states under his directions. This has also raised concerns among the party workers who were at their wits’ end to explain the reason behind his exclusion. One of Madhav’s close associates said that Madhav was himself not keen to take a seat in the Upper House.
From Maharashtra, Narayan Rane was made the party choice as the party leadership needed a strong Maratha leader to take on the Shiv Sena.
Similarly, even though Rajasthan based leader Kirodi Lal Meena has a troubled history with the party, he was nominated on a weak wicket in Rajasthan and the party feels that his influence would help the party get the votes of the influential Meena community that has more than 10% population.
With Yogi Aditynath at the party helm in Uttar Pradesh, the party felt that Vinay Katiyar, the “Hindu face” has outlived his utility and hence he was not considered for another term.