Patna/New Delhi: In a major embarrassment for BJP ahead of the Bihar polls, its MP R K Singh today alleged party tickets were sold to criminals after denying those to sitting MLAs and genuine workers, a charge rubbished by the party as “baseless and unfortunate”.
Singh, a former Union Home Secretary, said after criminals were rewarded with tickets by BJP there remained no difference between it and Lalu Prasad, whom the party has been targeting over ‘jungle raj’. “Criminals have been given tickets even before they joined the party. This is injustice to the people of Bihar. Some people have sold tickets. What is this? How will we get clean administration? You have given tickets to criminals. How will you give a clean administration in Bihar. No reasons have been given why criminals were allotted tickets. It is not that only criminals can win elections. We as residents of Bihar are concerned. What is the difference between you and Lalu Prasad,” Singh said in Patna.
Despite the potentially damaging statement by Singh, sources in BJP said the party was unlikely to take any action against the MP from Ara before the state assembly polls get over. However, responding to Singh’s comments, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Delhi tickets were distributed “fairly” after considering all aspects. “In BJP, wherever there is ticket distribution, it is done fairly and after considering all aspects. As far as Bihar is concerned, the BJP-led NDA will win a comfortable majority.
It has the support of the people of Bihar,” he said. Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad, who was in Bihar for campaigning, and Sushil Kumar Modi, dismissed Singh’s claim about tickets having been sold to criminals. Prasad, a Rajya Sabha member from Bihar, said “In BJP, ticket is given to a nominee after transparent discussion by senior leaders.” Reacting sharply to the charge, BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said, “It is an unfortunate statement. We reject and condemn such baseless allegations. R K Singh is an honourable MP of the party, but it seems he does not know the party well and it would be better if he atempts to do that.”
Another BJP Spokesperson Nalin Kohli described Singh’s statement as “unfortunate”. “It is his personal view. The central leadership of the party collectively takes decisions as ours is a democratic party. Singh’s views do not reflect in any way how the party functions,” he said. Sushil Kumar Modi, a front runner for chief ministership if NDA is voted to power, to register protest but he did not take his calls. Singh said he had told the party leadership, including Modi, earlier that people with clean image alone should be given tickets.
“I had told him that clean people should be given party tickets. If you had not given tickets to criminals and given to people with clean image, the chances of winning would have been better,” he said. Singh said he came to know of money having exchanged hands in distribution of tickets during a visit to his constituency yesterday. He also named a few candidates whose assembly segments were part of his Ara Lok Sabha seat, besides some others in Patna and Arwal districts who he alleged had bought tickets and said,”I will not campaign for such candidates even if the party asks me to.”
Singh denied media reports that party chief Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had spoken to him and asked him to keep silent on this. Sushil Kumar Modi said though he had not seen Singh’s interview, tickets are decided in BJP by its Parliamentary Board after comprehensive discussion. He sought to downplay the controversy, saying such complaints were often made during elections by aspirants who fail to get tickets and those who are unable to secure them for their people. “There is nothing new about it,” he said. A Modi aide, who normally handles his phone calls, claimed he had gone through the call data of the past one week but did not find any made by the MP from ARA.
Modi said while fingers were being pointed at BJP, it was ruling JD(U) which had given tickets to more than a dozen people with criminal background like Dhumal Singh, Sunil Pandey, Munna Shukla among others. JD(U) was quick to pounce on Singh’s comments to attack Modi. “Modi has aversion to forward caste people within BJP too,” said Sanjay Singh, JD(U) spokesman and MLC.