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BJP battles dissent

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Jan. 11: Embarrassed, if not alarmed, at the continuing show of displeasure, dissent and defiance by dropped legislators and their supporters, the BJP today warned of disciplinary action against rebels.

BJP organisation secretary Hridaynath Singh, who returned from New Delhi today, said the party would not hesitate to take tough steps against dissenters. Singh was a member of the central election committee that finalised the list of candidates, the first party to do so.

Some of the dropped legislators, however, appeared hopeful of the party re-considering their claim. Former panchayati raj minister Madhu Koda, who has not been renominated from Jagannathpur, said from Delhi that the party did not have correct information about his constituency. He had called on senior leaders and apprised them of the facts, he said, and declared that Yashwant Sinha had assured him of conveying the correct position to the party leadership.

Koda's supporters today travelled all the way from Chaibasa and demonstrated at the party headquarters, demanding that the party rethink its decision of dropping the former minister.

In Jamshedpur, outgoing Speaker Mrigendra Pratap Singh lashed out at the chief minister and accused the BJP of giving more importance to people 'coming over from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha' than old party loyalists like him. The BJP, he said bitterly, had lost its character and added that he had respect for only two leaders ' Babulal Marandi and Yashwant Sinha. He had apprised both leaders of his feelings, Singh said.

In Giridih, BJP workers agitated for a different reason. They were protesting against the re-nomination of MLA and minister Chandra Mohan Prasad. Workers demanded a new candidate and decided to send a memorandum to the headquarters.

Reports of demonstrations and effigies of leaders being burnt have come in from different constituencies following the party's decision to drop MLAs like Chumnu Oraon, Dinesh Oraon, Ram Chandra Nayak and Arun Mandal.

A section of the party believes that a wrong signal was sent out on Sunday when the BJP appeared to have succumbed to pressure while nominating HRD minister P.N. Singh from Dhanbad. Since the decision came hours after Singh's supporters ransacked the BJP office, apprehending denial of the party ticket to him, other dropped legislators appear to have followed the cue.

Mrigendra Pratap Singh dismissed the reasons offered for dropping him ' age and indifferent health on the one hand and the anti-incumbency factor on the other.

A livid Singh said there were several candidates as old as him and he had nursed his constituency ' Jamshedpur West ' so well that there was no question of any anti-incumbency factor.

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