| Tarakant Jha |
Patna, April 10: The BJP today sprung a surprise by not giving re-nomination to the chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council, Tarakant Jha. It also dropped its sitting MLC Baleshwar Bharati.
The BJP’s list of four candidates includes deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, the party’s state vice-president, Lal Babu Prasad, and the state office-bearers Mangal Pandey and Satyendra Kushwaha.
The exclusion of Jha came as a surprise to several BJP leaders. Since he is chairman of the Council, it was presumed that he would be getting a re-nomination.
Jha refused to comment on the denial of re-nomination to the Legislative Council. “The BJP made me the chairman and I have done my job honestly. I started a series of programmes for the Bihar centenary celebrations, which started on March 2. The President inaugurated it. My last programme will be held on April 12 this year. The Vice-President will inaugurate it,” Jha told The Telegraph.
According to sources, the BJP parliamentary board refused to re-nominate Jha on the grounds that no leader would be sent to Rajya Sabha or state legislative councils more than twice. But the party has bent the rule more than once.
“This is an example of George Orwell’s famous words ‘all animals are equal. Some are more equal than others’. The party gave Rajya Sabha nomination to Arun Jaitley, Najma Heptulla and Ravi Shankar Prasad for the third time. In Bihar, Ganga Prasad has been a BJP MLC for the past 16 years,” said a BJP leader, stressing that Jha could have been given an extension because he is a very senior leader of the party.
Some BJP leaders sniffed Modi’s role in the exclusion of Jha. They recalled that when the fodder scam surfaced in the 1990s, there was a bitter fight between them as Jha represented some of the accused in the fodder scam in the court stressing that it was his professional obligation. Jha was expelled from the BJP at the behest of Modi.
“Though Jha was taken back in the party fold and made the chairman of the House, the relationship between Modi and Jha was not very cordial,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP sources said they would name the replacement of Jha before May 6.
Eleven seats of Bihar Legislative Council would be vacant on May 11. The tenure of chief minister Nitish Kumar and Modi would also end that day.
The JD(U) has decided to re-nominate all its six candidates. The RJD will field former chief minister Rabri Devi for the one seat it can win with its strength in the Assembly.
The last date for filing nomination is April 16 and the last date for withdrawing nomination papers is April 19. If there are more than 11 candidates in the contest, elections will be held on April 26.