BJP national president Amit Shah’s decision to meet party workers in Deoria district next week has taken shape of a curious form of dissent. Shah’s September 15 programme scheduled to held in Deoria’s Salempur area, according to some BJP leaders, was in reality an event to “pay homage to party MP Ravindra Kushwaha’s father Harikewal Prasad”.
And the BJP’s Deoria district unit is “not happy” about it.
Prasad, a diehard socialist leader and always in opposition to the BJP — so much so that he forced his son Kushwaha to return the BJP ticket in the 1993 Bihar Assembly elections — had been MP from Salempur (the seat currently held by his son) on four occasions for various political parties, including SP.
“We never considered Harikewal Prasad as our leader. He was always a socialist but we are doing our best to make the event (Prasad’s death anniversary) successful because now his son is a BJP MP and our party national president is arriving to attend the programme,” BJP’s Deoria district president Jai Prakash Nishad said.
For the programme, BJP workers from 11 districts of Gorakhpur region will gather to hear Shah.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kushwaha said: “My father was never against the BJP. He was close to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advaniji. I am organising a ‘shradhanjali sabha’ on his death anniversary and party’s state president Laxmikant Bajpai and state general secretary (Organisation) Sunil Bansal will also attend the event.”
Kushwaha rejected local BJP leaders’ complaints that he “ignores” his party workers as “baseless allegations”, saying “everyone cannot be satisfied.”
As per local BJP sources, party workers from 11 districts of Gorakhpur region will attend ‘shradhanjali sabha’ to welcome Shah and hear him. Sources also said that party workers from adjoining assembly segments of Bihar like Chhapra, Gopalganj, Siwan will also attend the event.
Salempur Lok Sabha segment is spread in two districts of Ballia and Deoria, (both bordering Bihar) and falls in Gorakhpur regional unit of BJP. Bhatpar Rani, Salempur, Sikanderpur and Bansdih Assembly segments of Salempur share boundaries with poll-bound Bihar.
“Maximum gathering of workers will be from Deoria and Ballia. While it’s Kushwaha’s event, workers from Gorakhpur region have been asked to attend,” said a leader of Gorakhpur regional unit.
The MP admitted there were Kushwaha voters in bordering Assembly segments of Bihar and said that he will camp there after September 15 to interact with these voters.
Harikewal Kushwaha was known for his strong influence on Kushwaha, Maurya and Kamboj community in the region.
In 1991 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had fielded Rambelash in Salempur who had lost the election to Kushwaha, who had contested as a Janata Dal candidate. In 1998, BJP’s candidate lost to Kushwaha who had by then moved over to the Samata Party. The following year, Kushwaha was a candidate for JD(U), which was in alliance with the BJP, but he lost to the BSP’s candidate. He won in 2004, on SP ticket, but couldn’t retain his seat in 2009.