BJP today played down the omission of actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha in the BJP Parliamentary Election Committee list in Bihar, which has raised speculation on whether he has been sidelined for shooting his mouth off on matters not in tune with the party.
The Parliamentary Election Committee, which would have a role in deciding the candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, does not have Sinha, who is an MP from Patna Saheb.
The 31-member committee comprises state President Mangal Pandey, former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, leader of opposition in state Assembly Nand Kishore Yadav, national vice president C P Thakur and several other state ministers and leaders of different wings.
National leaders like Ravishankar Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain and former state BJP president Gopal Narayan Singh have been named as special invitees to the committee.
Downplaying the rumours, Sushil Modi said such "a small committee is a non-issue" for a "towering leader" like Sinha.
"Sinha has been a towering national leader of the party... such a small committee is a non-issue for a leader of his stature," Sushil Modi told PTI.
Sushil Modi denied "ignoring" of Sinha in the party.
State BJP President Mangal Pandey clarified that this was a Parliamentary Election Committee and not a Parliamentary campaign committee of which Sinha, who has been star campaigner for a long time, has been a member in the past.
But, the issue has generated discontent among a section of BJP legislators and party leaders who were peeved at the omission of Sinha's name as he has always been important for the party at the state and national level.
These leaders, who requested anonymity, also resented absence of any politically significant backward "Kurmi" caste leader in the committee.
After severing ties with JD(U), BJP has been very active in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's native Nalanda district and is targetting his Kurmi castemen in the name of collecting iron tools for constructing statue of liberty in the name of "Iron Man" Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel whom Kurmis relate to as their casteman.