Former Lok Sabha MP and a vice-president of BJP’s Bihar unit, Putul Kumari, is set to contest as an Independent, with alliance partner JD(U) allotted Banka constituency in the seat-sharing arrangement in the state.
Putul Kumari, wife of Digvijay Singh, a former Lok Sabha MP from Banka and Union minister who died in 2010, however, said she is not quitting the BJP and will “strengthen” the party leadership with her victory.
Although the JD(U) had offered Banka candidature to her daughter Shreyasi Singh, an international-level shooter, Shreyasi turned down the offer, as she wants to focus on preparations for the Olympics next year.
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On Friday, Kumari maintained that “circumstances” have forced her to take a “tough decision”. She told The Indian Express: “I am not quitting BJP. I will win and strengthen the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I will file nomination on March 25.” She added, “I greatly admire the Prime Minister’s leadership.”
Asked whether she would resign from the BJP, Kumari said, “Let me contest first. I will see later whether I need to resign.” She also asserted that taking on the JD(U) candidate in Banka will not make her a rebel. The JD(U) is yet to announce candidate for the seat.
Having won the by-elections in 2010 after Digvijay Singh’s death, Kumari lost from Banka in 2014 to RJD’s Jaiprakash Yadav.
On Thursday, she had told a meeting in Banka: “The situation is similar to 2009 Lok Sabha polls, when Dada (Digvijay Singh) had to take a decision to contest as an Independent [after being denied a ticket by JD(U)]. People of Banka had kept his honour by ensuring his victory. We are facing a similar situation, and need your (people’s) support in this battle.”
While the BJP is yet to react to Kumari’s decision, the JD(U) seems to be wary. “We offered Shreyasi the ticket, but she insisted on concentrating on Olympics preparation,” a JD(U) leader said. The ruling party leader added that Kumari’s participation can only hurt the NDA.
Banka goes to the polls in the second phase on April 18.