Patna airport today witnessed one of the rare instances of factionalism within the BJP as supporters Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and party colleague RK Sinha came to blows. Mr Sinha, 67, the owner of a prominent security agency, is a contender for the Patna Sahib constituency, from where the 64-year-old minister has been nominated. The sitting member of Patna Sahib, BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha, has been dropped by the party, which had been at the receiving end of his barbs for long.
This afternoon, as Mr Prasad arrived for campaigning, a waiting 50-strong group booed him and started shouting slogans in support of RK Sinha. The minister’s supporters took them on, which triggered a clash that was brought under control by the security personnel stationed at the airport.
The rivalry between RK Sinha and Mr Prasad is said to date back from their days at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, where they started their political career.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, an orator with a background in law who was also close to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani, soon outstripped RK Sinha.
While Mr Prasad was made a member of Rajya Sabha in 2000, RK Sinha got his turn in 2016.
Mr Sinha regularly volunteers to depute guards from his security agency for various programmes of the party. His son Rituraj Sinha is considered close to BJP chief Amit Shah.
While rivalry during ticket distribution happens in every party, in the BJP, the process is much controlled. Still, there have been instances where senior BJP leaders have been at loggerheads for years — the foremost examples being Himachal Pradesh leaders Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal, and Anant Kumar and BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka.
The BJP is contesting 17 of Bihar’s 40 Lok Sabha seats. Polling in Patna Sahib will be held on May 19, the seventh phase of election.
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