From L.K Advani to Murali Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swarj to Sumitra Mahajan, the BJP is gradually easing out party veterans, who are 75 and above from the poll fight. After L.K Advani was replaced by party chief Amit Shah from Gandhinagar constituency, several other sitting lawmakers including Bhagat Singh Koshyari (76) from Nainital and BC Khanduri (85) from Pauri in Uttarakhand have been left out from the party.
Earlier, Shanta Kumar (84) from Kangra in Himachal Pradesh has already said that he will not be contesting the elections. Now, six-time Indore MP and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday said politics cannot have a fixed retirement age like government jobs, days after she opted out of the poll fray amidst speculations that the BJP was not keen to field leaders above 75 years of age.
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As the BJP dithered in announcing to field the candidate for the Indore Loksabha seat, Mahajan announced on April 5 that she would not contest the Lok Sabha elections. Mahajan had written to BJP chief Amit Shah that she has freed the party to make its choice for Indore seat. She turns 76 on Friday.
Mahajan said “Politics cannot be compared with government jobs. Retirement age in government service is pre-determined. However, this cannot be done in politics because politicians are directly involved with happiness and sorrows of the common people and work for them beyond deadlines.”
The BJP veteran Mahajan has been a winning Indore constituency since 1989, when she defeated former chief minister and senior Congress leader Prakash Chandra Sethi by over a lakh votes.
“I did not have any authentic information about party’s policy about not giving tickets to those leaders who are above 75” Mahajan claimed.
Senior BJP leader from Madhya Pradesh, Satyanarayan (79), last week, opposed that the Speaker should not be given a ticket since she hasn’t been in touch with people in her constituency. He warned that if the party gives a ticket to Sumitra Mahajan for the ninth time, I will be forced to think on contesting against her as an Independent candidate.
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“Majority of the local BJP workers are unhappy with her as she has not been around and also hasn’t done any work in Indore,” Mr Satyanarayan claimed.
In Jharkhand, Senior BJP leader Kariya Munda from Khunti is also likely to be dropped, he has turned 84. In Bihar, Hukum Dev Narayan Yadav (79) has already expressed his desire to retire from active politics. Another lawmaker, Kalraj Mishra from Deoria in Uttar Pradesh, is over 75 and has already told his party that he will not be contesting this time.
Two senior leaders and ministers in the Narendra Modi cabinet, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti, have declined to contest citing health reasons. Both are however in their sixties.