The Bharatiya Janata Party is facing revolt from within in Bihar on a day when the Election Commission announced the schedule for the Lok Sabha polls.
Several upper-caste leaders in the BJP have accused senior party leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, of trying to turn the party into his pocket borough and neglecting them.
They are unhappy over being neglected and criticise the party for wooing Dalits and Backward Castes leaders. The alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samata Party for the Lok Sabha polls has not gone down well with some upper caste BJP leaders.
BJP national Vice-president C P Thakur, former minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey, Griraj Singh, Ramadhar Singh, senior BJP party leader and deputy speaker of Bihar Vidhan Sabha, former state BJP president Gopal Narain Singh, party MLA Achutanand Singh -- all upper caste leaders -- have expressed their displeasure over the alliance with Paswan.
These upper caste leaders, who have been championing the cause of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for the last several years, skipped his rally in Muzaffarpur town on March 3.
According to a leader close to Griraj Singh, the most vocal supporter of Narendra Modi in the BJP in Bihar, he was displeased at the decision of the party to concede seven Lok Sabha seats to LJP and three seats to Kushwaha's party at the cost to deny party tickets to upper castes aspirants.
Singh himself is keen to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
Similarly, another diehard supporter of Narendra Modi, Choubey, who had publicly opposed an alliance with LJP, is keen to contest the Lok Sabha polls.
Thakur is upset with the alliance, as he was keen to field his son from a seat handed over to Paswan's LJP.
BJP MLA from Mahnar assembly, Achutanand Singh, a Rajput, has raised the banner of revolt by announcing to contest the Vaishali Lok Sabha constituency as a rebel BJP candidate against the LJP nominee. BJP has handed over Vaishali to the LJP.
Former minister Ramadhar Singh has vowed to fight the official BJP candidate from Aurangabad, if a ticket was given to Sushil Singh, who was expelled by the Janata Dal-United last week.
Sushil Kumar Modi has “sidelined” these upper caste BJP leaders and aligned with Narendra Modi to ensure maximum number of tickets for his own men in the polls.
A BJP leader closed to Choubey said Narendra Modi's wave has been hijacked by some party leaders who were earlier critical of him and described Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as PM material. Sushil Kumar Modi was not only praising Nitish Kumar when he was his deputy chief minister but even called him a PM material last year before the JD-U ended its 17-year-old alliance with the BJP, the leader said.
Thakur and Singh belong to the powerful Bhumihar caste, who are vocal supporters of Narendra Modi.
Similarly, Choubey, a Brahmin, is also opposed to the alliance with LJP. Choubey had publicly said that it would be suicidal for the party to get into an alliance with the LJP.
Choubey is vocal supporter of Modi like Singh, even when two of them were ministers in the Nitish Kumar government.
Paswan is a Dalit leader, known for his sway over community -- Dusadh and Kushwaha. He has been trying hard for the last few years to emerge as a leader of the Koeri, an agrarian backward caste, spread across the state.
Image: BJP chief Rajnath Singh and LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan celebrate after they formed an alliance for the Lok Sabha elections