Miffed LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan opts out of election contest

Sumitra Mahajan not to contest LS polls, says party has freedom to make its choice
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is one of the tallest BJP leaders from Madhya Pradesh.

Bhopal: Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan has chosen not to contest elections this time, miffed by the party diktat on barring those above 75 years to enter poll fray.

Sumitra Mahajan, who has won from Indore eight times in a row, released a letter informing her decision not to contest.

Onmanorama had last week reported that after BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, Sumitra would not be getting ticket.

From 1989, she was the face of BJP from Indore, where polling is scheduled on May 19.

In the letter released on Friday, she said the BJP has not declared its candidate till this day.

“Why this state of indecision? Possible that the party is feeling hesitant to take the decision on the matter. I had a discussion with the party seniors in this context long back and left the decision to them. It seems they are still in a dilemma. So, I declare that I will not contest Lok Sabha election,” she wrote.

“I am thankful to residents of Indore, the BJP and the party workers from heart for the way they supported me. I expect that the party takes a quick decision so that the state of indecision comes to end,” she said.

The development has reinforced the impression that age parameter prompted the decision. Only a day ago, party president Amit Shah had spoken about the party’s stand on age.

As the word about her letter spread, party leaders Sudarshan Gupta, Ramesh Mendola and Indore mayor Malini Gaud rushed to her home.

Later, she had a closed door meeting with party leaders.

Mahajan, popularly known as Tai, will turn 76 on April 12.

After party stalwarts L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, she is another major leader to bow out in line with the party stand which stipulates that those above the age of 75 should not contest.

Sumitra rose to prominence by humbling former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress stalwart India Prakash Chandra Sethi.

As suspense continued over the name of BJP candidate from Indore, a bellwether seat of sorts in Malwa-Nimar region, Congress was in wait and watch mode, preferring not to open its cards.

Asked about delay in announcement of the candidate’s name, Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said,

“Whosoever the party central leadership decides to eld would contest.”

On talk that senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia may be fielded from this seat, all he said was “Anyone can be fielded from Indore.”

Indore is of one of the eight Lok Sabha seats in Malwa-Nimar region where the BJP and RSS have deep roots.

It is from this region that the party began to expand footprint across the state.

In the 2014 Lok Saba elections, the party had made a clean sweep by winning all eight seats, taking its tally to 26 out of a total of 29 seats.

A defeat in this seat would be a big blow to the BJP, signalling an erosion in its base, something the party would like to avoid at all costs.

Before the “Lotus” bloomed in other states and the saffron party began to aspire for a pan-India presence, it

was in Malwa-Nimar and Madhya Bharat regions where the party began to consolidate its base, right from Jan Sangh days.

Late Kushbhau Thakre and late Pyarelal Khandelwal, who built the party from scratch and worked for years to turn the party into a formidable force in the state, were from this region.

Mahajan still enjoys popularity among residents despite being a central leader. Pappu Rajguru, a trader, says, “If Sumitraji was fielded from here, there was no doubt about her victory. But in case of her absence, this will be a tough fight for the BJP.”

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