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regular-article-logo Monday, 17 June 2024

BJP drops sitting MP Poonam Mahajan, fields Kasab prosecutor in Mumbai North Central

Ujjwal Nikam had been a media-savvy special public prosecutor in the high-profile 1993 Mumbai blast case and the trial of 26/11 gunman Ajmal Kasab, ever ready to spout comments that fitted nicely into the BJP’s trope of muscular nationalism

J.P. Yadav New Delhi Published 28.04.24, 06:13 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The BJP on Saturday named lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, who was special public prosecutor in the 26/11 and 1993 Mumbai blast cases, as its candidate for Mumbai North Central, dropping two-term sitting MP Poonam Mahajan, daughter of the late Pramod Mahajan.

Poonam, in her early 40s, is the second prominent "dynastic" politician after Varun Gandhi to be denied re-nomination by the party. Elected from Mumbai North Central in 2014 and 2019, and formerly head of the BJP youth wing, Poonam was seen as a promising young politician.

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Party insiders claimed she was dropped after surveys threw doubt on her chances. However, some suggested she may have paid the price for failing to show "total loyalty" to the leadership.

Nikam had been a media-savvy special public prosecutor in the high-profile 1993 Mumbai blast case and the trial of 26/11 gunman Ajmal Kasab, ever ready to spout comments that fitted nicely into the BJP’s trope of muscular nationalism.

Nikam was the prosecutor also in Pramod Mahajan’s murder.

Pramod, shot dead by his brother in 2006 when he was just 57, was the rising star of the BJP during the Vajpayee-Advani years. He was widely seen as the third most powerful leader in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s coalition government, his influence almost equal to that enjoyed today by Amit Shah.

However, the “India Shining” campaign he had designed for the 2004 general election backfired badly, causing the NDA to lose.

In a post on X, Poonam thanked the party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving her “the opportunity to serve” Mumbai North Central for 10 years and expressed gratitude to the constituency’s people for treating her like a “daughter”.

The BJP had announced its candidates for most of the seats it is contesting in Maharashtra — in alliance with the Shiv Sena and the NCP — while keeping Mumbai North Central pending. This had led to speculation that the party leadership was planning to drop Poonam.

Mumbai votes on May 20

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