Bhopal: A day after benched veteran BJP leader LK Advani wrote a parting shot at the party, another senior BJP leader – Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan – has written a letter saying she does not want to contest the Lok Sabha elections anymore.
Mahajan, who was hopeful of a ticket from Indore in Madhya Pradesh, cited the huge delay in announcing the BJP candidate from the constituency for pulling her name out of the poll race, and said the party can now name its nominee without any dilemma.
The eight-time MP turns 76 on April 12, falling just on the other side of the 75-year age limit set by the saffron party for its Lok Sabha candidates. Advani (91) and Murli Manohar Joshi (85) were also not renominated from their Lok Sabha seats, Gandhinagar and Kanpur, respectively.
“Till date, the party has not announced its candidate for Indore. It’s possible they have some doubts. This is despite me having discussions with senior party leaders earlier and leaving the decision up to them. It looks like they are still in a dilemma. That is why I announce that I don’t want to contest the election anymore,” her letter reads.
The letter has been sent just a day after BJP chief Amit Shah said on Thursday that it was his party's decision not to give Lok Sabha poll tickets to those above 75 years of age. His remark came after he was questioned about the BJP dropping Advani and Joshi. Shah has replaced Advani from his Gandhinagar seat.
The 91-year-old had on Thursday evening posted a blog saying that the BJP never regarded its adversaries as “enemies” or “anti-national”, in a rare statement seen as a rebuke of the current leaders.
Mahajan had recently said that she had never demanded a ticket from the BJP high command in over three decades, and on Friday urged the leaders to take a call on the candidate soon so that the cadre can start its work soon in full earnest. Indore is the largest city in MP and a commercial hub.
Soon after the letter, Mahajan summoned Indore mayor Malini Gaud to her residence and held a closed-door meeting with her. Gaud is seen as a strong contender if Mahajan is denied a ticket from Indore.
Several leaders close to Mahajan also rushed to her residence as the letter went viral. These included divisional organisational general secretary Jaipal Singh Chawda, ex-MLA Sudarshan Gupta, former BJP district head Shankar Lalwani, and ex-MLA Madhu Verma among others.
Mahajan’s displeasure was out in the open after she skipped the party’s ‘Main Hoon Chowkidar’ event despite being in Indore. She had also not prefixed her Twitter handle with chowkidar like her colleagues. The Congress is also yet to name its candidate from Indore.
Reaffirming her commitment to the party, Mahajan said she would support the candidate named from the seat and withdrew from the fray as the delay in announcement was further delaying campaigning and other election-related work. “It’s a new year (Hindu calendar) from tomorrow and I wanted to take a fresh decision,” she added. When asked if she would contest if offered a ticket, Mahajan said “I will see then”.