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More surprises in store

Updated on: 04 March,2024 04:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore | dharmendra.jore@mid-day.com

Kripashankar Singh wins party’s favour; BJP’s first list gives aspirants in Maharashtra jitters; VBA remains a concern for the Opposition bloc

More surprises in store

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis with Kripashankar Singh

Dharmendra JoreThey say in the BJP that it is better to leave one’s fate to the high command. The party’s first 195 of the Lok Sabha line-up consolidates this popular sentiment in the BJP’s rank and file. Aspirants and sitting MPs from Maharashtra have a strong feeling that their own state would be no different when it comes to surprises. Many state-level leaders, who are to be the candidates for the general elections, have kept mum about their prospects. Those tipped to be dropped have already accepted their fate. But there are some who still think that the party will apply the yardstick differently while selecting the nominees in Maharashtra. Being the boss of the alliance, the BJP’s opinion will also count dearly in the selection of the Shiv Sena (Shinde) and NCP (Ajit Pawar) candidates, because it is the state from where the NDA/BJP must win more than forty seats if it were to gather the highest ever number in the Lok Sabha. PM Narendra Modi has projected the NDA’s figure to be beyond 400, with the BJP’s share not less than 370. 


While the first list included mostly two-party states, where the BJP does not have pre-poll alliances, Maharashtra’s politics, made trickier with the participation of ‘two full (the BJP and Congress) and four halves (the Sena and NCP splinters)’, may delay the ticket announcements a bit. Neither the NDA nor MVA have shown any hurry. It seems they are still assessing each other in view of so many politically-motivated things happening in the state. People in the know say that only the last-minute ‘ironing’ needs to be done before making their respective lists public. Looking at the conditions it has proposed for a pact, the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi seems disinterested in joining the MVA, though it is pre-poll friends with the Sena (UBT). It seems Prakash Ambedkar-led VBA has gone into overdrive to project his party as an alternative to the Opposition combine’s weakest partners, the Congress and NCP (Sharad Pawar). VBA is likely to be accused of being the BJP’s Team ‘B’ if it doesn’t go with the MVA.         


It is not that the lists will be delayed inordinately. They should be out soon, depending on the election schedule. Like the past two polls, the model code is expected to be effective in the early second week of March. Polling is expected to be held in multiple phases from early April to late May. Some states will have their Assembly polls simultaneously with the general elections. In 2019, the country’s 543 Lok Sabha constituencies were polled in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. The results came out on May 23. Narendra Modi was sworn in again as PM on May 30.


Kripa unlimited

While the natives of the BJP and imports from other parties have been vying for the tickets and other honours in the party, a leader who claimed to be a native of both Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh has achieved something that could be others’ envy. Once Congress’s humble sevak, Kripashankar Singh, has managed to get the BJP’s Lok Sabha ticket from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh. While fighting the charges of accumulating assets disproportionate to known sources of income, the former Maharashtra minister and MLA from Mumbai had come under severe attack from the BJP, which had demanded his prosecution and arrest. Nothing happened when the Congress-NCP combine and BJP-Sena alliance were in power. Kripashankar had to wait patiently before he was inducted because some senior state BJP leaders were reluctant. However, known for his networking skills, unrelenting Kripashankar did not leave his fate to others. He connected with the leaders in Delhi and worked simultaneously to win over the Maharashtra leadership’s favour. He bid Congress a formal goodbye by hailing the PM for abrogating Article 370 which had given Jammu and Kashmir a special status. 

Yet, his dream of representing the BJP from Mumbai did not come true. Another north Indian leader, also an import from the Congress, was made an MLC. Made the state vice-president and given other responsibilities, Kripashankar, who would say, ‘If Hindi is my mother then Marathi is my aunt’, had to shift his focus to his native Jaunpur, because of ‘overcrowding’ of aspirants in Mumbai for the Lok Sabha and Assembly candidature. He may not be as lucky as his ex-Congress colleague Ashok Chavan, who was rewarded immediately after switching sides. Incidentally, the two leaders were instrumental in leading the Congress to a stellar performance in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra in the 2009 elections. Chavan was the CM then and Singh was the chief of Mumbai Congress. 

Tailpiece 

We hear that a former editor from Mumbai with his origins in UP has been expecting BJP’s Lok Sabha nomination from his native place. A rightwinger from the beginning, he joined the BJP about a decade ago. He has been working in UP while performing the duties as one of the national spokespersons.

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore

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