The BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit plans to seek Lok Sabha tickets for the four BJP MLAs booked on the charge of fuelling Muzaffarnagar riots.
The party plans to propose fielding Kairana MLA Hukum Singh from the Kairana Lok Sabha seat, Bijnore MLA Bhartendu Singh from Bijnore, Sardhana MLA Sangeet Som from Muzaffarnagar seat, and Thana Bhawan MLA Suresh Rana from Saharanpur. The proposals will be put before the BJP central election committee meeting on March 13.
BJP leaders are banking on consolidating the Hindu vote behind it, overriding caste divisions, in western Uttar Pradesh.
Sources said that while a strong section of the BJP was opposed to fielding Bhartendu Singh as he had gone underground after the case was slapped against him, he had the backing of yoga guru Ramdev. While Som and Rana had been arrested, and Bhartendu Singh was also held later, Hukum Singh had stood his ground, not evaded arrest and finally had not been held. A senior leader, Hukum Singh is the BJP leader in the state Assembly.
The BJP had slammed the state government for booking the four, claiming they were falsely implicated at the behest of the ruling Samajwadi Party. Som and Rana had been later felicitated by the BJP at an Agra rally addressed by Narendra Modi, where they were hailed as “heroes” who had “ensured the safety of Hindus” at the time of riots.
“It is up to the central leadership to approve their candidature,” said a member of the BJP state election committee.
BJP state unit chief Lakshmikant Bajpai defended the move, citing that whether the four party MLAs were yet to be chargesheeted, an SIT had recently filed a chargesheet against Muslim leaders in the riots. “Had the administration acted against organisation of a Muslim panchayat from the start, no one would have dared another panchayat and the situation could have been controlled. The episode exposed how the state administration was partisan,” he said.
According to the Uttar Pradesh government’s submission in the Supreme Court, while a majority of the communal incidents in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas had taken place on September 7 and 8 last year, 128 such incidents had in fact occurred between August 27 and September 16. The state government said 46 Muslims and 16 Hindus had been killed in these riots till the first week of October.
While the government had booked Som and Rana under the National Security Act, the Uttar Pradesh’s state advisory board had lifted the stringent Act against them and they were released from jail. Bhartendu Singh was released on bail after a few days in jail.
The SIT set up to probe the riots recently filed its chargesheet naming 10 Muslim leaders for inciting communal tensions during that period.