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BJP MP alleges tickets sold to criminals in Bihar, party rubbishes charge

Patna: In potentially damaging remarks for BJP ahead of the high-stakes Bihar polls, its MP RK Singh on Saturday alleged party tickets were sold to criminals, a charge dismissed as ‘baseless’ by the party but termed ‘exceptionally grave’ by rivals.

Singh, a first-time Lok Sabha MP from Ara in the state and former Union Home Secretary, left BJP acutely embarrassed when he said criminals were rewarded with tickets at the cost of genuine party workers which, he contended, obliterated the distinction between his own party and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who was being targeted for having established a ‘jungle raj’ when RJD ruled the state.

“Criminals have been given tickets even before they joined the party. This is injustice to the people of Bihar. Some people have sold tickets. What is this? How will we get clean administration?

“You have given tickets to criminals. How will you give a clean administration in Bihar. No reasons have been given why criminals were allotted tickets. It is not that only criminals can win elections. We as residents of Bihar are concerned. What is the difference between you and Lalu Prasad,” Singh said in Patna.

BJP, despite the seriousness of the allegation, was temperate in its reaction, with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserting tickets were distributed ‘fairly’.

“In BJP, wherever there is ticket distribution, it is done fairly and after considering all aspects. As far as Bihar is concerned, the BJP-led NDA will win a comfortable majority. It has the support of the people of Bihar,” he said.

Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad, who was in Bihar for campaigning, and Sushil Kumar Modi, dismissed Singh’s claim about tickets having been sold to criminals.

Prasad, a Rajya Sabha member from the state, said “In BJP, ticket is given to a nominee after transparent discussion by senior leaders.”

BJP spokesman Siddharth Nath Singh said the party followed a democratic and transparent process in deciding its nominees and advised Singh to follow party discipline and restraint. “Every leader in Bihar needs to ensure that Jungle Raj part II doesn’t come and, at the same time, it is important that party discipline and restraint is maintained,” he said.

Rival JD(U) was quick to pounce on BJP following Singh’s comments, describing them as “exceptionally grave” and alleging that BJP chief Amit Shah wants to win the election by “hook or by crook”.

“RK Singh is a senior member of the BJP from Bihar and he has had the courage to speak the truth. The unfortunate thing is that nobody is willing to listen to the truth anymore in the BJP either in Bihar or Delhi.

“Sushil Modi (BJP leader and former Deputy CM) takes phone calls only from Amit Shah, and Amit Shah has decided, like elsewhere in the country, that he must win in election by hook or crook or by any other means. The allegations made by RK Singh are exceptionally grave,” Pawan Verma, JD(U)'s national spokesman, said.

Despite Singh's comments causing discomfiture to BJP, sources in the party said any action against him was unlikely before the crucial polls in Bihar get over.

Singh's remarks come on the heels of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's call for a review of the reservation policy which created a political storm that prompted BJP and the Modi government to distance themselves from it.

Nitish Kumar, the anti-BJP alliance's chief ministerial candidate, and RJD boss Lalu Prasad, however, quickly lapped up Bhagwat's comments to claim an attempt was being made to tinker with the Constitutional arrangement with regard to quotas in government jobs and state-run educational institutions.

Reservation has been a sensitive issue in post Mandal Bihar, sharply divided on caste lines polarisation along which may benefit JD (U)-RJD-Congress alliance given the fact that it is led by backward class heavyweights like Nitish and Lalu. (With inputs from agencies)