The BJP in Bihar on Monday expelled its nine leaders, including a sitting member of the outgoing assembly and two former MLAs, for entering the fray against official NDA candidates, mostly as nominees of the Lok Janshakti Party headed by Chirag Paswan which has raised a banner of revolt against the JD(U).
According to a communication to the effect issued by state president Sanjay Jaiswal, the rebels have been expelled for a period of six years as they failed to meet the deadline set by BJP leadership for withdrawing nomination papers by October 12, thereby defying party discipline.
Those who have faced the action include Ravindra Yadav, the sitting MLA from Jhajha who has been fielded by Chirag Paswan-led party from the constituency after the BJP conceded the seat to Chief Minister Nitish Kumars JD(U).
Another expelled BJP leader is Rameshwar Chaurasiya, who had represented Nokha as a BJP MLA a number of times.
His seat has fallen into the JD(U) kitty and the LJP had fielded him from neighbouring Sasaram.
Another prominent figure to have faced expulsion is Rajendra Singh, known to have deep roots in the Sangh Parivar and the runner up from Dinara in 2015.
In the last polls Singh was being projected as a potential Chief Ministerial candidate though the BJP which was leading an NDA weakened with Nitish Kumars exit lost badly to the Grand Alliance comprising the JD(U), Lalu Prasads RJD and Congress.
Singh is now the LJP candidate from Dinara which sitting JD(U) MLA and state minister Jai Kumar Singh seeks to retain.
Other expelled BJP rebels cum LJP candidates are Usha Vidyarthi (Paliganj), who had won the seat on a saffron party ticket in 2010, besides Mrinal Shekhar (Amarpur), Shweta Singh (Sandesh) amd Indu Kashyap (Jehanabad).
Chirag Paswan had been attacking Nitish Kumar for past several months and recently announced his decision to defeat the JD(U) and, paradoxically, work for installation of a "BJP-led government" in Bihar.
His party has said it will be contesting more than 100 seats in the 243-strong assembly. The party came out with its list of 42 candidates for the first phase of assembly elections last week, a sizeable number of them rebels drawn from the BJP and the JD(U).
LJP candidates are in the fray in all seats contested by JD(U) and new entrants to the NDA - ex-CM Jitan Ram Manjhis Hindustani Awam Morcha and Mukesh Sahnis Vikasshel Insaan Party (VIP).
However, the party has taken care, so far, not to field its candidate in seats which the BJP itself was contesting.
As part of the seat-haring formula in the NDA, JD(U) has got 122 seats out of which it has allocated seven to its associate partner HAM, while the BJP received the rest 121 seats and it has given 11 from its share to its associate VIP.
The BJP, which had initially kept silent over Chirag Paswans antics giving rise to suspicions that the son of late Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan enjoyed its tacit support, has in the recent past distanced itself from the young leaders brinkmanship and backed Nitish Kumars leadership to the hilt.
In addition to the aforementioned BJP rebels, Ajay Pratap has faced action for entering the fray from Jamui where the saffron party has fielded ace shooter Shreyasi Singh, daughter of former party MP Putul Kumari and late Union minister Digvijay Singh.
Ajay Pratap has filed his nomination papers as the candidate of former Union minister Upendra Kushwahas Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.
RLSP which quit the RJD-helmed Grand Alliance recently and after a failed bid to gain entry into the NDA, ended up forming a six-party front which also includes Mayawatis BSP, Asaduddin Owaisis BSP besides some smaller, non-descript outfits.
Yet another BJP leader to have been expelled is Anil Kumar who is contesting as an Independent from Bikram where the party has fielded Atul Kumar as its official candidate.
Meanwhile, the Chief Electoral Office sources said that a total of 1065 candidates have been left in the fray for the first phase of assembly polls for 71 seats after 25 nominees withdrew their nomination papers on the last day of withdrawal on Monday.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer (ACEO) Sanjay Kumar Singh said a total of 1354 nomination papers were filed in the first phase out of which 1090 candidates were left in the first phase after nomination papers of 264 nominees were found invalid by the Commission during scrutiny.
Total 45 candidates have, so far, filed their papers on the second day of filing of papers for the second phase for 94 seats, the ACEO said.
Voting for the second round will take place on November 3.