The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ticket row pushes back Atal meet

New Delhi, Nov. 7: A crucial meeting of the BJP’s central election committee to be held at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence this evening was called off allegedly because of dissent over nominations to the remaining seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Central leaders who met this morning could finalise 14 candidates for Chhattisgarh, the only state where the exercise passed off amicably. Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani were to resume deliberations with the other members of the committee this evening, but it now appears that the session will take place tomorrow.

The Rajasthan BJP issued a statement this evening that the party was geared to defeat the “incompetent, most corrupt and anti-people” Congress government.

A statement released here by BJP chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje, leader of the Opposition in the legislature Gulab Chand Kataria and state party general secretary Prakash Chandra claimed that the selection procedure was the “most transparent and democratic” in recent times. It maintained that the reports of BJP members being unhappy with seat allocation were “far from the truth and contrary to ground realities”.

However, no such statement of solidarity came from the Madhya Pradesh unit where four factions were “openly at war”, according to sources.

The group leaders were identified as central ministers Vikram Verma and Sumitra Mahajan, chief ministerial candidate Uma Bharti and BJP general secretary Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who will fight Digvijay Singh and who is considered a protege of former chief minister Sunderlal Patwa. “There is khicha-taani (a tug-of-war),” said a leader.

Things reportedly came to a head last evening when the leaders from Madhya Pradesh met at the residence of Patwa — a former rival of Bharti.

Verma and Bharti allegedly exchanged words on why the central minister’s spouse was being denied a ticket, more so when the BJP norm of not encouraging parivarwaad (family interests) had already been flouted with Bharti’s brother securing a ticket. Bharti is believed to have walked out in a huff but later made up with Verma.

Mahajan, who has sought a ticket for her son, was also said to be sulking.

Sources said they hoped to paper over these problems tomorrow and finalise most of the names.

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