BSP WAS Wednesday hit by fresh rebellion when two of its MLAs charged the party leadership with demanding money from them in return for tickets to contest the assembly elections due early next year.
Pallia MLA Harvinder Kumar alias Romi Sahni and and Mallawan MLA Brijesh Verma alleged that both of them were called at their party chief Mayawati’s residence on July 6 where BSP’s national general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui asked them to deposit Rs 5 crore and Rs 4 crore, respectively, to contest the elections, adding they were “warned” that their candidature would be cancelled if they didn’t pay up.
“When we expressed inability to pay the money, we were asked to forget about the assembly elections and prepare for the next Lok Sabha elections (2019),” Brijesh said.
Rejecting the charge, BSP suspended the two MLAs later in the day for indulging in “anti-party activities”. In a written statement, it said the MLAs were making “baseless allegations” after being denied tickets to contest the elections from their respective seats. The party had expelled them in June as well but had revoked that decision earlier this month after they tendered a written apology.
Their fresh rebellion comes in the wake of BSP suffering back-to-back jolts with the resignations of senior leaders Swami Prasad Maurya and R K Chaudhary and former MLA Ravindra Nath Tripathi. All of them had accused Mayawati of “auctioning” assembly tickets.
Sahni and Verma, however, said that they were not resigning from the party and claimed that they were speaking out before the media “in the interest of the BSP”.
Regretting that “rampant money power” in the party was tarnishing its image, Sahni said that the BSP would have otherwise touched “new horizons” and Mayawati could have become the “Prime Minister of the country”.
They claimed that the BSP leadership was demanding “anywhere between Rs 2 crore and Rs 10 crore” for the tickets, adding that “even sitting MLAs were not being spared”.
Alleging that there was an “atmosphere of terror” in the party and that almost half of the MLAs have “fallen ill”, the two claimed that any kind of interaction with leaders of other political parties was “not liked” in the BSP.
The MLAs also spoke in favour of expelled BJP leader Dayashankar Singh’s family, which was targeted by the BSP at its rally last week to protest the abusive language the leader had used against Mayawati.
“We condemn Singh’s remarks and also oppose the slogans raised during our party’s protest rally… his 12-year-old daughter cannot be punished for what Singh has said…our sympathy is with the family,” Sahni and Verma told reporters here.
The MLAs also admitted that they were frequently meeting former BSP MP Jugal Kishore, who is currently with the BJP.
Replying to another query, they said they were recently expelled by the party on allegations of maintaining contact with expelled leader Jugal Kishore but were taken back four days later after they were made to sign a paper. They praised Maurya, saying “he is an honest and trustworthy person and we will continue to meet him in personal capacity”.
Both claimed they were “loyal” to the BSP and denied rumours that they had voted against the party’s nominees in the recent Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections.
“It was an open vote in the Rajya Sabha, and in the MLC elections, too, we were given a code. There is no question of us voting against the party nominees,” the two asserted.
Maurya, who was the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, has floated a new outfit, Loktantrik Bahujan Manch (LBM). He claims the support of over “10 sitting BSP MLAs”.
R K Chaudhary, on the other hand, had Tuesday organised a rally on the occasion of Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj’s birth anniversary under the aegis of Bahujan Samaj Swabhiman Sangharsh Samiti where Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar was the chief guest.
While Maurya is a prominent OBC leader, Chaudhary is a Dalit, the two important votebanks of the BSP.