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BJP's plans for poll head start derailed

By A Correspondent in New Delhi
Last updated on: January 19, 2009 19:14 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party's plan to pip other parties in declaring candidates for the Lok Sabha elections by the end of January has failed.

The party on Monday declared 18 candidates, including former Union finance and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha from Hazaribagh and former Union minister Karia Munda from Khunti in Jharkhand.

A three-day meeting of the party's central election committee in New Delhi was wound up in less than two hours. The party still does not have names from the state units.

Also, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh's tantrums meant the leaders decided to pacify him before declaring candidates from Uttar Pradesh besides the seven already announced.

A token selection of 18 candidates, that included eight from Kerala and Tripura, was announced by general secretary Ananth Kumar, who said further CEC meetings will be held on January 28 and 29. The party had earlier declared 19 candidates, including its prime ministerial candidate Lal Kishanchand Advani from Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

The state units' election committees are already holding meetings to send their recommendations to the CEC, Ananth Kumar said, dropping hints that the final selection can be made only after the central office gets the lists from the states.

A shadow of revolt loomed large over Monday's meeting. So much so that Ananth Kumar had to stress that all names for Uttar Pradesh will be decided in active consultations with Kalyan Singh.

It is said that the party decided to involve Kalyan Singh in the selection process following reports that he was hobnobbing with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. The possibility of Kalyan Singh launching his own outfit like in 2001 also influenced their decision, it is said.

Asked about Kalyan Singh's reported meeting with Mulayam Singh, Ananth Kumar said: "He is a senior leader and one of our main campaigners. Decisions on Uttar Pradesh will be with his consent. Names declared till now were decided unanimously and Kalyan Singh had given his consent."

He also made it clear that the BJP would not comment if Mulayam tries to publicise his meeting with Kalyan Singh. Party sources said the leaders felt the meeting was at the most posturing by Kalyan Singh and nothing more should be read into it.

Asked about a demonstration before the BJP president by the party workers from Bulandshahr, raising slogans to sack Kalyan Singh for hobnobbing with Mulayam Singh, Ananth Kumar said: "Yes, the party workers met the president. I was with him. There was no issues as such," he remarked.

The meeting deferred the decision on selection of candidates in Uttar Pradesh to January 28-29 when the lists from the BJP-ruled states will also be considered, Ananth Kumar said.

Rajnath Singh was asked to speak to Kalyan Singh, who is publicly opposing the allotment of his Bulandshahr seat that has become SC reserved in delimitation to former Union Minister Ashok Pradhan. Party sources did not rule out another candidate of Kalyan Singh's choice for the seat.

Kalyan Singh figured in the very first list of seven candidates as a nominee from Etah.

Major candidates so far:

Jharkhand BJP president Pashupati Nath Singh for Dhanbad,

Ramta Choudhary for a Ranchi seat in Jharkhand,

Former Manipur chief minister W Nipamacha Singh,

Natubhai Gomanbhai Patel from Dadra and Nagar Haveli,

All-India secretary sdvocate Satyapal Jain from Chandigarh,

Rajnath Singh for Ghaziabad,

Murli Manohar Joshi for Varanasi,

Santosh Gangwar for Bareilly,

Ashok Pradhan for Bulandshahr,

Maneka Gandhi for Aonla,

Varun Gandhi for Pilibhit.

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A Correspondent in New Delhi