The RK Singh conundrum: “tickets on sale” statement, BJP won’t act against him in a hurry

Patna,Sanjay Singh: The BJP leadership and party workers are furious at RK Singh, their own MP from Ara. By leveling a direct charge of “tickets on sale” and putting his own party on the same pedestal as Lalu Yadav, the former home secretary-turned politician has scored a self goal, at a time when the rest of the team has been fighting hard to win a very closely contested Bihar election.

Image courtesy: IBNlive

The timing of these charges has, however, put the party leadership in a bind. Though there are several BJP leaders at many layers of seniority who are upset with Singh’s unprovoked remarks, any disciplinary action against Singh at this stage will keep the issue alive and may give bad publicity for the party. For now they would like the issue to die a natural death. For the time being, BJP vice president Prabhat Jha has said that the party president Amit Shah and the top leadership would in due course take a considered view on the subject.

The allegation-of giving tickets for money- is of a very serious nature and was bound to be instantly lapped up by the rival RJD-JD(U)-Congress leaders. Though such charges are not new to Indian politics,they are usually leveled by disgruntled leaders who don’t get tickets. It’s rare for a high raking MP of the ruling party whose personal integrity had been unquestioned to make such allegations.

It is difficult to independently ascertain the veracity of Singh’s charges. But this is election time, and what matters most about a party is perception. So far, the BJP leaders were maintaining that the ticket distribution had been “fair” and was decided based on the feedback from the grassroots and some discreet surveys commissioned by the party leadership. Even as some disgruntled elements were making some wild allegations including ‘sale of tickets”, Singh’s offensive came as a shock to the party.

Incidentally, Singh chose to speak out on a day when the BJP would have hoped that the day’s headlines would be about the CBI’s registration of an FIR against Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, raids on various properties which could be possibly connected with the Congress leader, as also on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ongoing visit to the USA.

The key question is whether Singh’s allegations will influence the minds of the voters. BJP leaders believe that they won’t do so, but the RJD-JD(U) and the Congress are determined not to let the issue off the hook.

Senior BJP leaders Prabhat Jha and Sushil Kumar Modi played down the issue, saying that whenever people do not get something in accordance with their wishes, there is a tendency to make wild allegations. They have said that since Singh is new in the party and political system, he went directly to the press.

BJP’s national secretary Srikant Sharma was more direct in taking on Singh. “He is new to the party and should devote time to understand the organizational structure and the way this party functions. He should do some introspection and ask himself as to how many people in the party and in his present constituency Ara were consulted when he was given a ticket by the party on a platter. RK Singh should realize he is an honorable MP of a party whose president Amit Shah is working hard to strengthen and expand organizational base of the party all across the nation. PM Narendra Modi is relentlessly working to take the nation on a developmental path. Party workers are sweating it out in the heat and dust to see that BJP wins Bihar.”

Singh’s close supporters have been unhappy for some time because he was not given a ministerial berth in the Modi government, and because his opinion does not matter much in organizational matters including in the Bihar elections. On a number of issues, he has not been in sync with the party official line. His statements on “fugitive” Lalit Modi gave a fresh twist to the controversy. His remarks on a “covert operation” against Dawood generated fresh controversy. His views have made been debated because he had been union home secretary for two years during the UPA regime.

After he retired from the government service on June 30, 2013, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar offered him an advisory position in his government but then he chose to join the BJP. Though Singh belongs to Saharsa district in Bihar, the BJP leadership despite resistance from local unit nominated him as its candidate from Ara. Singh’s connection to Ara is through his wife.

Today Singh’s sees no difference between the BJP and Lalu’s RJD. He rues the way his party is functioning. But other senior leaders of his party regret the decision to let him join the party, though as an officer, he had arrested LK Advani during the peak of the Rath Yatra. The leaders say he now inflicting damage of another kind, as an insider.