BJP MPs keen to contest assembly polls

BHOPAL: Even as the BJP in Madhya Pradesh is looking for new faces for the upcoming assembly elections due this year end, almost half of the elected Lok Sabha members are seeking tickets for assembly seats in order to get a cabinet berth or to avoid being rejected by the party for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on the basis of performance.
The first such voice came from the tribal belt of Mandla, where Lok Sabha member Faggan Singh Kulaste announced to contest assembly polls instead of seeking a ticket for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Kulaste’s statement came after the party announced Rakesh Singh, an MP from Jabalpur, as the new state president.
“I would prefer to contest assembly elections from Mandla rather fighting Lok Sabha polls in 2019”, said a dejected Kulaste, who was dropped as a minister of state (MoS) from the Narendra Modi cabinet in September 2017.
Kulaste had also been ill at ease with the party high command on a variety of issues related to tribals. On more than one occasion, his views have also been seen as contradictory to the official party stand, earning him the ire of senior party leaders.
Reports from Khandwa also sparked speculations as the outgoing state chief Nandkumar Singh Chauhan announced that he would focus on Nimar region and his constituency. During public meetings in Khandwa district, Nandkumar is also learnt to have disclosed his plan to contest from Mandhata assembly constituency instead of the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat. But, the former BJP chief has not officially disclosed his cards as of now, said sources.
MPs from West Nimar, Malwa, Mahakaushal and Bundelkhand regions are also unwilling to contest Lok Sabha elections and rather prefer assembly tickets from their home districts. Sagar MP Laxminarayan Yadav has already announced that he would not contest the Lok Sabha polls.
“Many MPs feel dejected after being rejected cabinet berths. Most of the MPs won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 riding on the ‘Modiwave’. Now, they are being monitored for their performance and when asked about their contributions to their constituency, many failed to fulfil their basic duty and management of funds”, said a senior state BJP functionary.

“Prime Minister Modi is a strict boss. He keeps an eye on the activities of his MPs, works assigned to them, their performances and efforts made to communicate with the public. There are officials from New Delhi touring the state and collecting feedback on various Central schemes. In such cases, one cannot escape without showing results”, said Bhopal MP Alok Sanjar.
“But, I never sought any favours. I would perform on the basis of work assigned to me. I am also ready to work at a long stretch as I know that I have chosen the field of social service of my own”, said Sanjar, who has been recently pulled by the party leadership for poor utilisation of funds in his constituency.

Sources disclosed that the saffron party and its frontal organisations have also commissioned surveys to gauge the mood of the people ahead of the 2018 state assembly and 2019 parliamentary elections. It is also surmised that more than 10 MPs are going to lose their tickets during the 2019 polls for poor or non-performance and that is why they are seeking assembly tickets, said sources, adding that some of them even fear a strong anti-Modi wave during 2019.
“Those who want to seek favours (tickets) should raise their demand in the party forum. The election management committee will decide whether a candidate is fit for contesting assembly or the Lok Sabha polls. The party will disclose the names when and where necessary”, BJP state spokesperson Deepak Vijayavargiya told TOI when asked about MPs seeking assembly tickets.