BJP faces revolt in Jammu over candidate selectionNovember 3rd, 2008 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu, Nov 3 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party is aiming to make a mark in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections but the state unit is rattled by a revolt from within over the selection of candidates.The top trio of the party in the state, state unit chief Ashok Khajuria and his two predecessors Chaman Lal Gupta and Nirmal Singh, have chosen for themselves the Jammu East, Jammu West and Gandhi Nagar constituencies - all in this winter capital and considered the safest for the BJP.
Singh’s candidature for the Gandhi Nagar seat has been opposed by about a dozen senior leaders who see him as an outsider since he hails from Badholi area of Kathua district.
While Singh, twice state party president, has never won an election, Khajuria had lost the last elections of 2002 from the Jammu-East constituency. Gupta had not contested then as he was an MP and minister of state for defence.
Angry at the selection, state BJP senior vice president and spokesman Hari Om resigned in protest last week.
“I don’t say that my resignation would make any difference to a party of the BJP’s size and reach, but this is the time for the party to do some self-introspection,” Hari Om said.
Vijay Kumar, a long-time BJP activist from Gandhi Nagar, said: “The party is running down the loyal workers and promoting the spent forces who have a history of losing elections or playing second fiddle to the ruling parties.”
Khajuria refused to comment on the matter.
The BJP won only one seat in the 2002 elections but this time it feels it can do better in Hindu-dominated pockets of Jammu region after the two-month long agitation this year over land allotment to the Amarnath Shrine Board.
As the Kashmir Valley protested the state government’s move to allot forest land to the shrine board for pilgrim facilities, several Hindu groups led protests here when the allotment was cancelled.