With the Lok Sabha elections expected to usher in a generational shift in politics, second-rung leaders and veterans of political parties are having a tough time retaining their seats.
If the BJP’s Lalji Tandon and Murli Manohar Joshi, key figures in the Vajpayee dispensation, are getting the jitters about their seats (Lucknow and Varanasi) being handed over to Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi, in the Congress, former Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay is facing the same problem with his constituency in Jharkhand.
A three-MP from Ranchi, Sahay has landed in Delhi to foil Congress second-in-command Rahul Gandhi’s bid to replace him with Mohammad Azharuddin, who is said to have Digvijaya Singh’s support as well.
Sahay, who has threatened to quit the party if his seat is to be handed over to Azhar, has been holding meetings with various party leaders. Sources close to him told Express: “He is still in a meeting. Rest assured, his supporters will not allow the party to field anyone else. They are all here and they’ve made it clear.” A decision on the Ranchi seat is expected by Tuesday or Wednesday, the source added.
This is one of the reasons the Congress withheld naming the candidate for Azhar’s seat in its first list on Saturday.
Actor Nagma, who was seen walking around the AICC headquarters a few days ago, was the second contender for the Ranchi seat.
Sahay’s only drawback is that he had to quit the Cabinet in the wake of revelations that he had recommended allocation of a coal block to a firm associated with his brother. However, the sources said the allegations were fabricated and insisted that he would be able to retain his seat.
The Congress, which has already lost quite a few leaders and even a candidate to the BJP and other parties, is also having problems with JMM leader Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren over seat sharing.
The JMM had promised to settle for four Lok Sabha seats, leaving the majority to the Congress in exchange of supporting a Soren-led government in the state. But, sources said the JMM was backtracking on the deal.