BHOPAL: Taking a clear stand on 75-age bar row, BJP state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan clarified on Thursday that it was not obligatory to appoint veterans in the state cabinet. He said that it was also not certain whether party would give ticket to the leaders who have attained 75 years of age.
The BJP chief’s assertion came in view of party president Amit Shah’s statement, who had said during his Bhopal visit last week that there was no such rule or tradition in BJP to remove leaders of 75-years or above from the cabinet or they cannot contest elections. “There is no such rule in BJP that leaders above 75-years of age cannot get ministerial berth or contest elections”, Shah had said during his three-day visit.
Shah’s statement had raked up a controversy in the saffron party involving senior party leaders like Babulal Gaur and Sartaj Singh, who had been removed from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet on the grounds of 75-age bar in June 2016. After Shah’s statement, the two veterans had alleged that they were deliberately removed from the cabinet through a conspiracy.
Nandkumar, however, remained firm on his stand despite Shah’s statement on 75-age bar and said that leaders cannot compel the party to give a ministerial berth as it is chief minister’s prerogative. “The veteran leaders must understand this and should not on getting a cabinet berth. Its chief minister’s prerogative whom to include in his team”, he said.
The state BJP chief’s statement has added fuel to the fire with senior leader and former union minister Sartaj Singh demanding a reply from the party on the entire matter. He said party should explain as to why he was removed. “There are contradictory statements being issued. I want a clear reply from the party organisation about what was my fault and why I was removed as a minister from the cabinet,” said Sartaj on Thursday.
With both veterans alleging conspiracy by senior party leaders to remove them from the state cabinet, the state leaders seem to have gone on the backfoot, said sources in the party.