Fireworks to fizzle: Mishra to withdraw from RS polls

Ranchi/New Delhi: With a possible defeat staring at him, independent candidate Anshuman Mishra today said he would withdraw tomorrow from the race for Rajya Sabha polls from Jharkhand after BJP asked its MLAs not to vote for him.

Mishra, an NRI businessman, told reporters in Ranchi that "abiding by the appeal by (BJP president) Nitin Gadkari, I will withdraw my nomination tomorrow".

BJP president Nitin Gadkari. Reuters

He had earlier said he had no intention to withdraw from the contest unless the BJP leadership asked him.

Several BJP MPs and party leader Yashwant Sinha had objected to the party backing Mishra, whose nomination paper was signed by six party MLAs, with Sinha alleging the seat was being auctioned.

Thursday is the last date for withdrawal of nomination.

Mishra's announcement of his decision to pull out of the fray came soon after BJP, faced with revolt over some of its MLAs supporting the independent candidate said it has directed its legislators not to vote for him.

The BJP decision was taken at a high-level meeting attended by Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley, Yashwant Sinha, general secretaries Ananth Kumar, Ravi Shankar Prasad and others in New Delhi. BJP President Nitin Gadkari has given his consent to the decision.

"BJP categorically states that no member of BJP Legislative Assembly shall vote for an independent candidate Anshuman Mishra," Ananth Kumar said after the meeting.

Mishra's candidature was supported by six BJP MLAs as proposers when he filed his nomination. The party has not put up any candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections from Jharkhand.

Several MPs revolted against the move to support Mishra.

The dissenting voices in BJP Parliamentary Party meeting on Wednesday forced a rethink. Charges were levelled that Rajya Sabha tickets were being sold and dedicated party workers were denied a seat to accomodate outsiders.

"In view of largescale horse trading and malpractices going on in the Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand, BJP has further decided that its members in the Jharkhand Assembly will abstain from voting in the Rajya Sabha elections scheduled to be held on March 30," Kumar said.

BJP has 18 MLAs in Jharkhand Assembly. Twenty-seven MLAs have to support a candidate for him to win a Rajya Sabha seat from the state.

PTI