The prefix ‘Chowkidar’ disappearing and reappearing on his Twitter handle appeared to sum up the day for BJP’s North West Delhi MP Udit Raj, who failed to get a ticket from the reserved constituency after his party picked singer Hans Raj Hans instead.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the Dalit leader said he was “being forced” to quit the BJP, but has not taken a final decision on the matter. Raj, founder of the pro-Dalit Indian Justice Party, had joined the BJP in 2014.
Sources in the BJP said that while the party had decided not to give a ticket to Raj a while ago, it employed a carefully crafted strategy to make sure he doesn’t switch camps before the nomination process, since another party fielding him would have impacted BJP’s chances in the May 12 polls.
So, even till noon on Tuesday, no official announcement was made on who was being fielded from the seat, keeping Raj on tenterhooks. Candidates for all other seats in the capital had been declared by the BJP a day earlier.
As it became clear he had not been picked, Raj appeared to acknowledge that he had been played: “I am not so hungry that I would have switched camps so soon, I am a disciplined soldier. But I feel the ticket was delayed so I may not join another party.”
Sources in his camp said that as he started showing signs of a rebellion on Monday afternoon, he got phone calls from three top party leaders, asking him to be “patient” till the party reaches a final decision. However, BJP insiders said the party had taken a decision weeks ago, since the RSS was not enthused about some of his statements, which it felt were “not in line with the party and the Sangh”.
The BJP MP has often held views contrary to the party’s stand, especially during the Sabarimala issue and the Bharat Bandh called by Dalit organisations last year, party sources said. “He had joined the party but he was never ours… he was hoping for a ticket from the BJP so he gets votes in Modi’s name… At the same time, he kept giving statements against the party’s official line,” a senior BJP leader said. Click here for more election news
Sources said Raj was in touch with both Congress and AAP, but did not switch sides because Delhi unit president Manoj Tiwari had assured him he will be given a ticket. But when he called a central leader, he was told his survey report was not up to the mark.
“I am the best performer as per BJP’s internal survey. Nobody talked to me about denial of a ticket. If I had faith in Modi and Shah, they should have told me that I would not be given a ticket. I have not resigned yet. Showing faith in Modi, we had merged our party with the BJP. Why am I being punished?” he said.
On ‘Chowkidar’ reappearing on his Twitter handle, a source said: “Removing it was just posturing… but once it became clear he’s not getting a ticket, seems he realised it’s better to play the long game, especially with Assembly polls next year.”