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Heartburn over Bhagat berth luck

New Delhi, May 27: Forty-four-year-old tribal MP Sudarshan Bhagat’s inclusion in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers may have come as a surprise for most leaders in the BJP’s state unit, but no one is willing to speak publicly against the decision.

Insiders said while names of MPs such as Khunti’s Karia Munda and Dhanbad’s P.N. Singh did the rounds, few expected the new Prime Minister to pick a relatively younger, lesser-known Bhagat over the others.

“Probably Bhagat, a dedicated RSS worker, has been rewarded for controlling missionary activities in the tribal segments of his Lohardaga constituency and nearby areas. But most of us were expecting Munda or Singh would make the cut. At first it was difficult to believe that Bhagat, who defeated Congressman Rameshwar Oraon by a slender margin, would emerge as the lone face from Jharkhand in Modi’s team,” said a senior party leader on the condition of anonymity.

Bhagat won by a thin margin of 6,489 votes.

In contrast, Dhanbad MP Singh, a strong Rajput leader, defeated his nearest rival Congress’s Ajay Kumar Dubey by the biggest margin of over 2.92 lakh votes in the state.

The 77-year-old Karia Munda, former deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, might have been ignored due to Modi’s decision to leave out 75+ leaders.

Singh, on the other hand, was overlooked as the Prime Minister wanted a tribal face from the state, they added.

Insiders said Jayant Sinha, the first-time MP from Hazaribagh and son of former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha, and Nishikant Dubey, who won the Godda seat for the second time in a row, were among the hopefuls. But they too haven’t shown the “audacity” to openly talk against the decision yet.

“Bhagat has done a lot for his constituency and I am happy that he has got the opportunity to serve the people as a junior minister for social justice and empowerment. We are very happy that a hard working MP from Jharkhand has been included in the council of ministers,” Sinha told The Telegraph.

Sources said there was resentment in some quarters about poor representation from the state in the new Union government.

“The Assembly elections in the state are only a few months away. On top of it, Jharkhand has handed out 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats to the BJP. Naturally, people of the state were expecting more from the Centre. But, we have got a token representation in the form of a not-so-important portfolio. So, we are not wrong if we are feeling overlooked,” said a party leader.