Field a local person from Pilibhit, not Maneka Gandhi, BJP leaders tell Amit Shahhttps://indianexpress.com/elections/field-a-local-person-from-pilibhit-not-maneka-gandhi-bjp-leaders-tell-amit-shah-5632984/

Field a local person from Pilibhit, not Maneka Gandhi, BJP leaders tell Amit Shah

Two of the leaders alleged that Maneka Gandhi ignored development of the district and remained inaccessible to both the people and local partymen. The MLAs and other leaders also held a meeting to discuss the issue.

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Maneka Gandhi contested all Lok Sabha elections from Pilibhit since 1989, except in 2009, and lost only in 1991. (Express File Photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Four legislators and a few leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have written a letter to party president Amit Shah requesting him to field a local person and not an outsider from Pilibhit seat for the Lok Sabha elections. Union Minister Maneka Gandhi is the sitting Pilibhit MP.

Two of the leaders alleged that Maneka Gandhi ignored development of the district and remained inaccessible to both the people and local partymen. The MLAs and other leaders also held a meeting to discuss the issue.

However, district BJP president called it “indiscipline and sent a letter to state president Mahendra Nath Pandey with details of the letter written by the MLAs and other leaders.

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Maneka Gandhi contested all Lok Sabha elections from Pilibhit since 1989, except in 2009, and lost only in 1991. Her son and present BJP MP from Sultanpur, Varun Gandhi, debuted and won the Lok Sabha election from Pilibhit in 2009, when Maneka chose the neighbouring Aanola seat in Bareilly. In 2014, she returned to Pilibhit and won the elections.

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Pilibhit Lok Sabha constitu-ency comprises five assembly seats — Bisalpur, Puranpur, Barkhera, Pilibhit and Baheri — all won by BJP candidates in the 2017 assembly elections.

Except for Puranpur MLA, Baburam Paswan, the rest four MLAs from the constituency signed on the letter addressed to Amit Shah, dated March 15, 2019. On behalf of MLA from Pilibhit seat, Sanjay Singh Gangwar, his younger brother Vijay Singh, also a local party leader, signed on the letter.

Others who signed the letter include former minister Dr Vinod Tiwari, BJP’s regional vice-president Suresh Gangwar and general secretaries of the district unit, Gurbhag Singh and Sanjeev Pratap Singh.

BJP MLA from Bisalpur, Ram Saran Verma, said, “We decided to approach party’s national president with demand to field a local person in the elections from Pilibhit seat as people have been asking for the same. Before sending the letter, we held a meeting in Pilibhit. On behalf of MLA Sanjay Singh Gangwar, his brother Vijay represented the meeting.”

“I signed the after consulting my brother,” confirmed Vijay.

“There are reasons to raise the demand. Local residents complain that Maneka Gandhi was never serious about the development of the region and was inaccessible to them. She is not even approachable for us as well. We have made a request to Amit Shah and now he has to decide on it,” added Verma, a four-time MLA. Verma said they have not recommended any name to Amit Shah. Kishan Lal Rajput, BJP MLA from Barkhera, and Chhatrapal Singh, MLA from Baheri, confirmed signing of the letter.

Three-time MLA and former minister Dr Vinod Tiwari and BJP’s regional vice-president Suresh Gangwar also confirmed to have signed the letter stating the same reason.

BJP’s Pilibhit district president, Rakesh Gupta, said, “Maneka Gandhi has been an MP for 30 years here, so there is no question of her being an outsider. Leaders sending letter to national president Amit Shah amounts to indiscipline and I have sent a report to the state BJP president.”

Gupta added, “The two district general secretaries who signed on the letter have given me in writing that they did not sign any such letter.”

On the contrary, one of these general secretaries, Gurbhag Singh, denied Gupta’s claim and said he did sign the letter. He said, “I have regularly been raising this issue of fielding a local person as candidate from Pilibhit seat.”

Another general secretary, Sanjeev Pratap Singh, confirmed the district president’s statement and said he didn’t sign the letter.