The Bharatiya Janata Party appears unfazed by the exit of a few leaders, including ministers and MLAs, ahead of the February-March assembly polls in five states. According to sources, most of these deserters were likely to be denied tickets and that triggered the defections.
Senior leaders in the party said that the exit of ministers Michael Lobo in Goa and Swami Prasad Maurya in Uttar Pradesh was anticipated and the party’s plans for the forthcoming polls would not be affected by this.
Sources say that in an effort to counter the anti-incumbency factor, the BJP is looking to deny poll nominations to almost a third of its MLAs in both Uttar Pradesh and Goa.
Those who are leaving knew that their unjustified demands of giving tickets to family members would not be met and thus they started parleys with the opposition camp, say the sources.
In Goa, chief minister Pramod Sawant himself took to Twitter to address the matter. “Bharatiya Janata Party is a big family that continues to serve the motherland with full devotion! A few defections, to fulfil the agenda of greed and personal interests cannot deter our agenda of Good Governance,” he wrote.
Similarly, Uttar Pradesh deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya tweeted an appeal to Swami Prasad Maurya to talk to the BJP and not take a wrong decision in haste. However, no serious outreach is being seen from the party despite its leaders acknowledging that the exit of the backward caste face is a setback as he impacted more than a dozen seats.
“It indeed is a setback. It was evident from his activities that he would quit. The party gave him everything from a cabinet post to a ticket of MP to his daughter. We were prepared for this. There would be quite a few people quitting the party as they know they too will be denied tickets. To secure tickets, one needs to work,” said a senior BJP leader.
Along with Maurya, a few other UP BJP leaders have announced their resignation, saying that the party had neglected traders, farmers and backward groups.
At least two BJP leaders criticised Swami Prasad Maurya’s resignation on social media. While Gaurav Bhatia tweeted and later deleted a post in which he compared his erstwhile party colleague to “darkness”, MP Harnath Singh Yadav claimed Maurya had the mentality of a “Jinnah supporter”.
The party has asked state unit chief Swatantra Dev Singh along with others to keep a check on any exodus ahead of the crucial UP polls. The state will have voting in seven phases between February 10 and March 7. Goa will see polling on February 14. Punjab and Uttarakhand will have elections the same day while Manipur will vote in two phases on February 27 and March 3. The counting of votes for all five states will take place on March 10.